Tag Archives: habitat

Ntchisi – Malawis siste regnskog

Hjelmperlehøne

(Frode Falkenberg; 21 mars 2017)

Malawi er et land preget av avskoging. Den enorme befolkningsveksten i det lille fattige sentralafrikanske landet gjør at trykket på skogsområdene er stort. I snart fem år har NOF jobbet med å ta vare på viktige fugleområder i Malawi. En av dem er skogsreservatet Ntchisi.

Ntchisi-regionen i Malawi var tidligere et enormt skogdekt område i den sentrale delen av landet. Deler av disse skogsområdene var (og er) tropisk regnskog. Skogsreservatet dekker i dag et areal på ca. 75 kvadratkilometer, og ligger som en øy i et ellers tungt kultivert landskap. Den unike regnskogen og tilstøtende skogsområder har en rekke sjeldne fugle- og dyrearter. Blant annet er fuglearter som brunmaskeapalis, stjerneskvett, miombomeis, miombosolfugl og skjeggkobberslager ikke uvanlige i området.

Avskoging og ødeleggelse av fuglehabitater

Malawi er et av verdens fattigste land. Med sin plassering midt i sentral-Afrika har de en rekke utfordringer. Tørke, flom og en enorm befolkningsvekst har gjort at presset på naturressursene er omfattende. Etter dårlige avlinger i 2016 ble hele 40 % av befolkningen i landet avhengige av ekstern bistand for å få mat. Befolkningen som lever rundt skogsreservatet Ntchisi talte ved prosjektets oppstart i 2012 omtrent 130 000 mennesker, men har nå økt til 200 000. Tallet stiger stadig.

Den største utfordringen i Ntchisi (og Malawi forøvrig) er avskoging. Den årlige avskogingsraten i Malawi de siste ti åra lagt på nærmere 3 %, hvilket er helt i “toppsjiktet” globalt. Skogsarealene har tradisjonelt blitt brukt til både jakt og sanking av trevirke til bygningsarbeid eller ved. I tillegg kommer mange langveis fra for å hente ved eller lage kull, som de senere selger i byene.

Det er tillatt å hente død ved i reservatet, men hogst av friske trær er forbudt. Blir man tatt for å gjøre det, kan man se fram til både lange fengselsstraffer og drøye bøter. Til tross for dette skjer ulovlig hogst dessverre jevnlig i Ntchisi. Denne hogsten er i første rekke gjort for å lage trekull. Trekull benyttes i liten grad på landsbygda, men i mer urbane strøk er det mer vanlig. Vakter fra både departement og stammene rundt Ntchisi patruljerer daglig skogsområdet for å sørge for at ulovlig hogst ikke forekommer.

I tillegg til hogst er påsatte skogbranner et problem. Dette blir gjort for å åpne beitelandskap til kyr.

NOF sitt arbeid

NOF sin samarbeidspartner er the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM). Vårt hovedfokus er å ta vare på viktige fugleområder (Importand Bird and Biodiversity Areas – IBA) i landet, der Ntchisi er et slik område. Vi jobber også i to andre IBAer, Kasungu nasjonalpark og Dzalanyama skogsreservat.

Hovedmålet i prosjektet er å bevare fugler, deres habitater og biodiversitet, samt og å arbeide med lokalbefolkningen for en bærekraftig bruk av naturressursene.

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Livestock grazing effects on sage-grouse

sage_grouse.jpg
(USGS; 21 March 2017)

Effects of livestock grazing on greater sage-grouse populations can be positive or negative depending on the amount of grazing and when grazing occurs, according to research published today in Ecological Applications. The research was conducted by scientists from the United States Geological Survey, Colorado State University and Utah State University.

Higher levels of grazing occurring early in the growing season – that is, before peak plant productivity – was associated with declining sage-grouse population trends, whereas similar levels of grazing that occurred later in the growing season corresponded with sage-grouse population increases. The study authors noted that this finding might reflect the sensitivity of some grass species to being grazed upon during their spring growing period, as well as the potential for additional plant growth if grazing later in the season removes dead vegetation.

“Increasing our understanding of how the amount of grazing and season of livestock use affect vegetation could help inform short-term modifications to livestock management to benefit sage-grouse populations and help sustain western ranching operations,” said Cameron Aldridge, a CSU professor, USGS collaborator and study coauthor.

Studies demonstrating a link between grazing and sage-grouse population trends have been lacking for this landscape species, which use vegetation consumed by livestock for food and shelter. In this new study, scientists analyzed grazing records from Bureau of Land Management allotments from 2002 to 2012 in sagebrush-dominated rangelands across Wyoming to determine the amount of grazing and when livestock graze in the plant-growth season. They then used annual counts of male sage-grouse from 743 breeding sites, known as leks, during the same period to evaluate whether livestock grazing management actions corresponded with sage-grouse population trends.

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Winter sets up breeding success: study

Winter sets up breeding success: Study

(Physorg; 20 March 2017)

For migratory birds, breeding grounds are where the action is. But a new study by University of Guelph biologists is among the first to suggest that the number of songbirds breeding during spring and summer depends mostly on what happens at their wintering grounds.

The pioneering study points to potential effects of climate change and may help conservation groups better protect migratory birds, including many species whose numbers have dropped in recent years, says Brad Woodworth, a PhD student in the Department of Integrative Biology and the study’s lead author.

The paper appears today in Nature Communications. Co-authors are U of G professors Ryan Norris and Amy Newman, and researchers in Maine and Switzerland.

Most researchers spend more time studying birds during the summer breeding season, but this study looked at how conditions in summer and winter homes affected population numbers of savannah sparrows.

The Guelph team used tiny tracking devices called geolocators to follow individual birds – each weighing about as much as three loonies – during migration over thousands of kilometres to and from their wintering grounds in the southern United States.

The researchers also used data collected since the late 1980s by researchers studying the sparrows during summer breeding at the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy.

They found that wintering ground temperatures and population density at the breeding grounds are key factors affecting how many individuals return to breed on Kent Island each spring and summer.

That’s important information for biologists hoping to understand why populations of certain migratory birds have fallen in recent years, said Norris.

“What’s prevented us from learning has been lack of knowing where these birds go and what they do after leaving the breeding grounds,” he said.

Acknowledging that breeding grounds are usually more interesting and accessible to most researchers, he said the breeding season offers only a snapshot of a creature’s annual life cycle.

“Most birds are visitors to breeding grounds. They spend two to four months, they breed and they’re out of there.”

Not surprisingly, said Woodworth, warmer wintering grounds improve overall survival and encourage higher populations. But predictions of more frequent and severe weather caused by climate change suggest that any warming benefit may be outweighed by new threats.

“Even a harsh winter storm of a few days could put populations at jeopardy,” he said.

Norris said conservation organizations looking to protect habitat, including buying land or pushing for protected status for various species, might need to focus more on wintering ground conditions. Grassland birds, for example, are increasingly threatened by more intensive farming in their winter homes.

“You can only really make effective decisions about where to put resources for conserving migratory animals if you know what’s driving year-to-year fluctuations in their populations,” said Norris, noting that the study offers a model for studying other migratory animals from caribou to whales.

“We need to know what’s happening at both the breeding and non-breeding grounds. For many species like savannah sparrows, the non-breeding grounds might matter more.”

Använd fågelarter som landskapsindikatorer för skyddsvärd skog i nordvästra Sverige!

(Christer Johansson, Dennis Kraft; 2017-03-13)

”Öppet brev till Herman Sundqvist, generaldirektör på Skogsstyrelsen”
Herman Sundqvist generaldirektör för Skogsstyrelsen skrev på DN-debatt 9 mars att man nu tar en paus i inventeringen av nyckelbiotoper i nordvästra Sverige. Huruvida det blir någon paus i avverkad skyddsvärd skog har han däremot ingen aning om. Detta betyder att det under obestämd tid framåt är fritt fram att avverka skyddsvärd skog i det sista sammanhållna naturskogslandskapet vi har i landet. Det är denna form av avsaknad av kontroll vi brukar förknippa med regnskogsskövling i Brasilien och Indonesien, och för all del på senare tid även i Europas sista urskog Bialowieza i Polen och Vitryssland. Nu sker det i vårt land i vårt sista sammanhållna naturskogslandskap! VI ANSER ATT DETTA ÄR FULLSTÄNDIGT OACCEPTABELT!
Det är uppenbart att Hermans Sundqvist och skogsstyrelsen har svårt att hantera värdefulla landskap med de vanliga struktur- och artinventeringar man använder vid nyckelbiotopinventeringar. Man är helt enkelt van att kunna avsätta mindre områden på några hektar med värdefull skog som nyckelbiotop. När arealen växer upp mot hundra hektar saknar man verktyg och väljer då att helt sluta med att göra inventeringar, men avverkningståget kommer inte att stanna för det. Det kommer att fortsätta, men utan att myndigheten, i det här fallet Skogsstyrelsen, tar sitt ansvar!
Låt oss ta ett parallell från Baltikum……

 

Mapping the world’s most threatened bird habitats

sokoke_scops_owl.jpg

(Author: Alex Dale; Photo Peter Steward; 15 March 2017)

Since the 1970s, BirdLife International and its Partners has worked to identify and protect the areas on our planet – over both land and sea – that are of great significance to the conservation of the world’s threatened birds.

The result is the largest global network of significant biodiversity sites in the world – to date, over 12,000 Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been documented. And that number continues to grow all the time as our reach and our knowledge expands.

Unfortunately, the future of some of these IBAs is far from secure. Many IBAs lack any form of formal protection, and whether it be deforestation, climate change, war, urbanization or whatever, many of these crucial sites and habitats – and those that live within them – face being lost forever.

But we’re working to save them. Our IBAs in Danger initiative provides an essential focus for governments, development agencies, the international environmental and conservation conventions, business and wider civil society to act to prevent the further damage or loss of these sites.

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Laguna Mar Chiquita will become a National Park

Flamenco Austral.jpg(Francisco González Táboas; Photo: Pablo Rodríguez Merkel; 9 March 2017)

Mar Chiquita is the largest salt lake in South America, a wetland of interannual importance and now in the process of becoming the largest National Park in Argentina.

True “clouds” of up to half a million Phalaropus tricolor phallus cover the sky almost to cover the sun. The horizon turns pink thanks to the 100,000 southern flamingos that live and nest there. The gold of the grasslands, which protect the enigmatic aguará guazú, obliges to reduce the pupils of the eyes. The water covers everything as far as the eye can see, but the sounds and colors of the birds stand in a festival for the senses capable of moving any human being: a true “sea of nature”.

Such are the days in the Mar Chiquita lagoon and the Dulce River wetlands, the largest salt lake in South America, which is nothing less than a wetland of importance according to the Ramsar Convention and one of the five Areas important for the conservation of Birds that are in danger (IBAs in Danger, in English) in Argentina.

A few years ago Aves Argentinas (BirdLife in Argentina) set out to work to achieve the effective conservation of many of its IBAs, especially those that were in danger. This was done 3 years ago with the plateau of Lake Buenos Aires, fundamental for the future of the maca tobiano Podiceps gallardoi that today is largely the Patagonia National Park.

This time it was Mar Chiquita’s turn. Although it currently has a figure of Multiple Use Reserves, it has several problems of clearing, unplanned use of water resources and tourism and illegal hunting that affect it. Thus, Aves Argentinas, with the National Park on the horizon, began work in the area, identifying fiscal areas that could join the protected area and getting donors for eventual land purchases.

In addition to meetings with local actors, researchers, environmental educators, the Bird Watchers Club and villagers. Little by little, the idea took shape and strength.

Read more in spanish

The importance of grasslands in South America

el_charlatan.jpg(Author: Miguel Parrilla, Photo: Brian E. Small, 6 march 2017)

Towards a hemispheric alliance for sustainable use of natural grasslands.

In the Southern Cone of the American continent, there is an area of natural pastures unique in the world for its rich biodiversity and for the forage value of the species that compose it. In the past, these grasslands occupied an area of 100 million hectares, located in part of Rio Grande do Sul, Argentina, southern Paraguay and all of Uruguay. As other land uses were introduced, such as agriculture, forestation, routes and urbanization, the natural pastures were losing area, until today it reaches 50 million hectares.

Natural grasslands are home to 540 recorded wild bird species, 12 of which are threatened globally. Among them are species of migratory birds that make their crossing annually joining the North American prairies with the pampas of South America.

But natural pastures not only provide food and shelter for birds, livestock and wildlife in general, but well managed and in good condition provide a series of benefits to society, which begins to value them more and more. These benefits are known as “ecosystem services”, among which we highlight the following:

  • Capture and retain carbon, reducing the presence of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, responsible for global climate change.
  • They filter rainwater and slowly recharge aquifers, making water available for human, animal or irrigation purposes.
  •  They provide space, shelter and food for species of fauna that can only live there.
  • They maintain populations of predators and pest controllers from agriculture, allowing savings in the use of polluting chemicals.
  • They maintain an ancestral landscape, associated with the culture and traditions of the region.
  • They shelter latent seeds of valuable species for the cattle fodder in critical times.
  • They provide resistance to extreme climatic events like droughts and floods, giving greater stability to livestock production.


As carbon sinks that to date are off the global agenda for the promotion of GHG emission reduction. In this context, the module helped to understand the ecosystem function of pasture in climate regulation and in which there is a complex interaction between herbivore, plant, solar energy and soil, highlighting the latter as the habitat of an extensive network of living organisms that regulate processes of decomposition of organic matter, mineralization of elements such as nitrogen and soil formation

The benefits of ecosystem services can be at a certain distance, even very far from the site where the natural grasslands are located, that is to say the rural establishment that preserves them.

The Pasture Alliance developed a formula to measure the degree of conservation of natural grasslands in the hands of rural producers who own or manage fractions of them. This is the ICP (Index of contribution to the conservation of natural grasslands), which is already being used by some governments in the region to provide benefits to producers who better conserve their natural grasslands, through tax cuts, emission and sale Of bonds for ecosystem services, access to preferential lines of credit, etc.

Read more in spanish