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Land use and land management to March 2012

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Planning reform revisions ease conservationists' fears for countryside | Politics. The biggest shakeup of the planning system for more than half a century was unveiled on Tuesday when the government published dramatically slimmed-down guidance in the hope of kickstarting more house-building and other development to create jobs. The reforms take effect immediately, but councils have a year to prepare the local plans that will be the "keystone" of the new system by setting out where development can and should not take place in line with the government's guidelines, said Greg Clark, the planning minister. The national planning policy framework was met with far more support than the draft version, released last year, which provoked an almost united front of opposition across the conservation and environment movement due to fears it would lead to the loss of countryside.

The 50-page document retained a presumption in favour of "sustainable development" but addressed campaigners' concerns by providing a definition of what sustainability should encompass. Building a better planning system. Colorado Seeks ‘Roadless Rule’ for National Forests. Chinese company demolishes Cambodian forest to build casino. Windermere Canada geese cull to go ahead. 7 March 2012Last updated at 03:37 ET There are estimated to be about 1,200 Canada geese on Windermere at certain times of the year A cull of 200 Canada geese is to go ahead in the Lake District, despite more than 2,500 people signing a petition against the move. Rangers said up to 1,000 of the birds had been causing environmental problems on Windermere and said other control measures had failed. About 2,600 people signed a petition urging The Windermere Geese Management Group (WGMG) to reconsider. However, it has announced it is to go ahead with the cull as planned.

Neil Ryding, who organised the petition, said he believed wildlife was a large draw for visitors to the Lake District and said the group should see that "going to shoot these birds is just wrong". The group said the geese have a "serious negative impact" on the economy and the environment, adding to pollution within Windermere and the surrounding land. 'Managed cull' New Zealand court halts Chinese dairy deal. Planning reform critics 'to be disappointed by review' 6 March 2012Last updated at 18:28 ET By Allegra Stratton Political editor, BBC Newsnight Remember that battle the government had with the National Trust where it seemed to find itself very uncomfortably on the wrong side of the silent majority whose idea of Sunday afternoon fun is a stately home, afternoon tea and trip to the gift shop?

It was over the rather dry-sounding issue of how to reform the planning system but the National Trust believed the government intended to allow developers to pave paradise. And the government was forced by the fracas to go away and consult. Well, the consultation is not over yet but I understand that the eventual document is not going to go down well with the National Trust, English Heritage, Daily Telegraph and so on (apologies, I know I've missed many).

Now sources say it is "highly unlikely" the new document is going to please its critics. The Treasury is very bullish about this timing issue right now. That's the idea. In Brazil, Protection of Amazon Rainforest Takes a Step Back. Rural Land Grabs. In Liberia, a Nobel Laureate’s Problem. ON Monday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated for a second term. She is often depicted in the press as a postwar leader successfully rebuilding a country destroyed by decades of conflict. For her many admirable accomplishments, she recently shared the Nobel Peace Prize. However, unbeknown to many outside Liberia, Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf’s government may now be sowing the seeds of future conflict by handing over huge tracts of land to foreign investors and dispossessing rural Liberians. Between 2006 and 2011, Mrs. More than a million people live in the regions where the palm-oil concessions were granted.

In recent months, Sime Darby has begun developing its first 25,000 acres in Grand Cape Mount County in northwestern Liberia. In response, Sime Darby representatives traveled to the area on Jan. 6 and held meetings with villagers. The president then visited the villagers herself. Her administration must change the way it does business. Mrs. Heather seeds sown over old A3 at Hindhead. 15 March 2012Last updated at 13:04 ET Children help return the route of the old A3 to nature by sowing heather seeds The final stage of returning the route of the old A3 to nature is getting under way in Surrey.

Children are joining National Trust director general Dame Fiona Reynolds to sow heather seeds at the Devil's Punch Bowl beauty spot. Contractors have now finished taking up the old London to Portsmouth road which used to cover 1,600 acres at Hindhead. "In this day and age, to take up a road has got to be a first," said head ranger Matt Cusack. The old road, which was cut through the hillside 180 years ago, closed in July last year after the new Hindhead Tunnel opened to take the A3 away from the National Trust land.

The old road separated Hindhead Commons from the Devil's Punch Bowl. 'Real blight' "It is good to actually remove a built structure," said Mr Cusack. "When the trust took over Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl in 1906, the motorcar was quite a young invention. Landscape and the Internet - 9 Papers in Future Internet Special Issue. Severe Drought, Other Changes Can Cause Permanent Ecosystem Disruption. An eight-year study has concluded that increasingly frequent and severe drought, dropping water tables and dried-up springs have pushed some aquatic desert ecosystems into “catastrophic regime change,” from which many species will not recover. The findings, just published in the journal Freshwater Biology, raise concerns that climate change, over-pumping of aquifers for urban water use, and land management may permanently affect which species can survive.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation. “Populations that have persisted for hundreds or thousands of years are now dying out,” said David Lytle, an associate professor of zoology at Oregon State University. “Springs that used to be permanent are drying up. Streams that used to be perennial are now intermittent. “Before 2004, this area was like a beautiful oasis, with lots of vegetation, birds and rare species,” Lytle said. “It´s like comparing old-growth forests to second-growth forests,” Lytle said. On the Net: Hands Off Our Land: ordinary countryside to get more protection in revised planning rules. Media Centre: Satellite technology yields new forest loss estimates. The world lost nearly ten hectares of forest per minute between 1990 and 2005. 30 November 2011, Rome - A new, satellite-based survey released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides a more accurate picture of changes in the world's forests, showing forest land use declined between 1990 and 2005.

The findings of a global remote sensing survey show the world's total forest area in 2005 was 3.69 billion hectares, or 30 percent of the global land area. The new findings suggest that the rate of world deforestation averaged 14.5 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2005, which is consistent with previous estimates. Deforestation largely occurred in the tropics, likely attributable to the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land.

On the other hand, the survey shows that worldwide, the net loss in forest area between 1990 and 2005 was not as great as previously believed, since gains in forest areas are larger than previously estimated. Smart meter project is delayed. 10 May 2013Last updated at 08:33 ET Smart meters show customers how much gas and electricity is being used The introduction of energy smart meters in 30 million UK homes will be delayed for more than a year, the government has announced. The £11.7bn project will start in the autumn of 2015, rather than the summer of next year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said. It said that the industry needed more time to design, build and test the communications system required. The devices show exactly how much gas and electricity is being used. This should bring an end to estimated bills, because the technology could send back an accurate meter reading to an energy company every day.

According to the industry, the technological advance would be the equivalent of using wireless broadband instead of sending a telegram. Preparation The project is considered vital in attempts to cut energy use by households as the UK faces having to import more energy in the future. “Start Quote. Energy prices will play an important role in determining global land use in the twenty first century - Abstract - Environmental Research Letters. Global land use research to date has focused on quantifying uncertainty effects of three major drivers affecting competition for land: the uncertainty in energy and climate policies affecting competition between food and biofuels, the uncertainty of climate impacts on agriculture and forestry, and the uncertainty in the underlying technological progress driving efficiency of food, bioenergy and timber production.

The market uncertainty in fossil fuel prices has received relatively less attention in the global land use literature. Petroleum and natural gas prices affect both the competitiveness of biofuels and the cost of nitrogen fertilizers. High prices put significant pressure on global land supply and greenhouse gas emissions from terrestrial systems, while low prices can moderate demands for cropland.