Tag Archives: nature

Albufera Nature Park in Mallorca to expand by almost a quarter

Albufera Nature Park in Mallorca to expand by almost a quarter


Albufera Nature Park in Mallorca

Water quality is central to the management for Albufera.

The Balearic government has approved the expansion of the Albufera Nature Park by 390 hectares. The park, which has protected status, will now cover 2,036 hectares in all – an increase of 23.7% – the expansion incorporating more wetlands in Muro and Sa Pobla, the Son Bosc area and Es Comú beach.

There is now also an Albufera plan for the management of natural resources (PORN), the environment minister Miquel Mir saying that one of the plan’s main objectives is the protection and quality of water. Peripheral areas, amounting to 754 hectares, that aren’t part of the park will be included in the plan. These include so-called ecological corridors, wetlands that are part of the usual movement of certain species of fish and birds.

The inclusion of peripheral areas is intended to ensure the control and conservation of nearby rural environments and contribute to the main purposes of the park, e.g. the maintenance of water channels and the management and restoration of ecosystems and habitats.

Mir explains that Albufera is dependent on the water and that loss of quality has affected flora and fauna. The plan will mean that there are “flexible management tools” to react to changes and to therefore ensure “the optimal conservation of one of the most emblematic natural areas in the Balearics”.



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Mount Etna Eruption Ranks Among Its ‘Strongest’ in Recent Years

Mount Etna Eruption Ranks Among Its ‘Strongest’ in Recent Years


Lava spewed from a crater at Mount Etna late on February 20 and into the early hours of February 21 as the volcano erupted for the fourth time in four days, according to local reports. According to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), debris from the eruption was expelled more than one kilometer above the volcano. The event was “one of the strongest paroxysmal episodes” that has taken place at Mount Etna in recent years, INGV said. Credit: INGV via Storyful



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How Nature Can Save Our Cities

How Nature Can Save Our Cities


Comment

The Climate Commission largely bases its modelling, and its recommendations, on urban life as we know it – but our cities could be very different, writes Rod Oram

Aotearoa has two abundant and distinctive climate opportunities: urban form; and agriculture. If we seize both boldly, we will respond effectively to the climate crisis while improving our lives physically, socially, culturally, environmentally and economically.

This column considers the urban opportunity; next week’s the rural one. Our abundance of natural capital is at the heart of both, as last week’s column discussed.

The Climate Change Commission is on to both opportunities in its draft recommendations to government. But superficially and timidly because it seriously neglects nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. Instead, it bases its advice on current technological solutions. It refers to but passes on the bigger challenges of overcoming the cultural, political and policy inertia blocking changes in attitudes and systems.

As the Commission points out: “Around 85 percent of New Zealanders live in urban areas with populations greater than 50,000. As a result, much of the country’s transport emissions occur within these urban areas. Cities can ‘grow up’ or ‘grow out’.

“Historically, cities in Aotearoa have had a tendency to grow out, resulting in growth at the urban boundary rather than the urban centre. The result has been sprawling car-oriented cities in the style typical of Australia or North America, rather than the more compact transit-, cycling-, and pedestrian-oriented cities typical of Europe and many parts of Asia.”

But the Commission fails to prioritise how we must and can change our urban forms and built environments so they are more beneficial to people and the climate. Pessimistic about us making those changes over the next few decades, it largely bases its modelling, and thus its recommendations, on urban life as we know it. Yes, we’ll walk, cycle and take public transport a bit more. But it relies on rapid adoption of electric vehicles to do the heavy lifting of emissions reduction.

Given that inertia, our urban lives will get worse, judging by the population projections the Commission uses for its modelling. Taking the mid-point of Statistic NZ projections, it says we will number 5.524 million people in 2030 and 6.160 m in 2050. Our growth from 2018’s 4.841 m people would be 14 percent by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050.

Auckland would bear the brunt of this. The Commission says its population could increase by 1m by 2050, a 60 percent increase from 2018.

As it happens, Auckland Council declared a climate emergency and adopted a climate plan late last year. The goals are a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 (which would require a 64 percent reduction in transport emissions) and net zero emissions by 2050.

… we build cheaply for the short-term; we squander land; we don’t plan strategically for the long-term; and we have yet to create a distinctive Aotearoa style of urbanism

But the council emphasises that we need big changes in our urban form, built environments and consumer behaviour to meet those goals. To help us shift those, we need the Government to transform how it makes policies and funds projects.

If the Government fails to do so, Auckland won’t meet even its short-term climate goals. Thus, it could soon be forced out of the C40 group of cities leading the urban flight against the climate crisis, as Newsroom reported recently. The group has grown from its original 40 cities to 96, which account for 25 percent of global GDP.

We should be at the forefront of the urban response to the climate crisis because we are a highly urbanised nation. We rank 28th in the world right behind the United Arab Emirates. By comparison, the UK is 33rd, the US 36th, France 51st, Germany 53rd, Switzerland 62nd and Ireland 89th.

We’re urban laggards for many reasons, such as: we build cheaply for the short-term; we squander land; we don’t plan strategically for the long-term; and we have yet to create a distinctive Aotearoa style of urbanism enlivened by the natural beauty and cultural riches of our nation.

Hamilton and Wellington show the way

Yet, Hamilton and Wellington are showing us the potential of our unique style as they embrace two of the most important concepts in the urban response worldwide to the climate crisis: creation of the 15-minute city; and regeneration of urban ecosystems.

The principle of the first is simple. However large a city is, each neighbourhood offers almost everything its residents needs for their day-to-day life and work within 15-minutes travel by walking, cycling and public transport. No cars required. The concept is spreading fast, as Bloomberg explains in this article. Paris is one example, with The 15-Minute City website offering more.

Hamilton shares the ambition, though in pragmatic Kiwi style it has stretched the definition to the 20-minute city. Hamilton City Council, NZ Transport Agency and Waikato University worked up the plans for it, as Iain White, one of the authors and a professor of urban planning, describes here.

Last year, the city submitted them to the Government’s Covid-recovery “shovel-ready” infrastructure fund. They met all the criteria for projects. They were ready to proceed ($193m worth in the first six months out of $500m in the full plan); they created construction jobs (over the first two years they would create 11,792 full-time employment years of which 3,378 would be direct, 4,966 indirect and 3,448 induced); they would generate economic activity (every one dollar invested in construction would produce between $2.51 and $3.11 in economic activity, giving a total return of approximately $1.37 billion in economic benefits); and they would deliver multiple, identifiable environmental, social, health and other benefits.

But Hamilton failed to win any funding. The Government favoured other applications, most of which were distressingly business and climate-as-usual rather than as transformational as Hamilton’s. Still, the city council is pressing on piecemeal with a few of the projects as fast as its constrained finances allow.


Are we falling behind when it comes to urban planning and design? Click here to comment.


Meanwhile, Wellington has long made good progress on regenerating its urban ecosystems. For example, it is famous internationally for Zealandia, the first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary in the world. It is restoring 225 ha of valley to as close as possible to its pre-human state. So far it has reintroduced 18 native species.

Wellington has been a member since 2013 of Biophilic Cities, an intentional network seeking to build the understanding of the value and contribution of nature to cities. So far it is the sole NZ member but hopefully many more of our towns and cities will see the sense of making nature central to their futures.

There’s abundant evidence of the benefits, such as in the most recent report of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. From an economic and business perspective, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development offered this reflection on the report.

Similarly the value to cities of restoring biodiversity are explored in this report from the UN, ICLEI (an international network of local governments focused on sustainability), and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

So, yes to EVs. But it is our natural capital which will make our towns and cities liveable, distinctive, climate-resilient and internationally recognised.



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Wadi Shawka, a charming destination in Ras Al Khaimah for nature lovers

Wadi Shawka, a charming destination in Ras Al Khaimah for nature lovers


Characterized by the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and its strategic location, it is located between the Hajar Mountains and the waters of the Arabian Gulf in the north of the United Arab Emirates, so we find includes a selection of tourist places in Ras Al Khaimah , which vary between the eyes, springs, oases, museums, and in our article for today we will shed light on the valley Shawka, which is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Emirates, due to its distinctive facilities, which we will discover together in the following paragraphs.

Torrent valley thorn

About

The Shawka area is a unique example of a village that combined the country’s original heritage and modern urban development, which made it a tourist destination to attract visitors from all sides, thanks to the mild weather in Wadi Shuka and the splendor of its picturesque nature and exceptional geographical diversity, in addition to the government’s rational directives to transform the valley into a tourist destination Modern by doing the following:

  • Development of the road to the Shawka Valley site, which connects the Shawka area with the southern regions, in line with the increased traffic movement throughout the year
  • Establishing environmentally friendly projects to provide products that improve the economic condition of the region’s residents

Natural Facilities

Palms of Wadi Shawka

Mountain Path

The Wadi Shawka region in the UAE includes a 10 km long mountain path, which is why it is considered a magnet for hiking enthusiasts, as it provides them with the opportunity to see the archaeological sites scattered in the surrounding area, within smooth and safe paths.

Rest House

The Shawka Valley Rest House has contributed to adding a new location for recreational trips and outdoor camping, where you can stay and enjoy its family facilities, after booking and inquiring from its owner.

Wadi Shawka Dam Open Park

The Wadi Shawka Dam Open Park is one of the most amazing camping places in the Shawka Valley of Ras Al Khaimah, because it is located near the dam lake, in which birds gather on its edges to form a wonderful sight, and it is considered one of the best camping places in Ras Al Khaimah.

Water pools

Yoga

The Wadi Shawka dam area receives a large group of nature lovers throughout the year, especially after the rains, and water gatherings abound in Wadi Shawka, as visitors flock to capture images of the flow of valleys after the dam is full and the formation of lakes, which led to the launch of many national environmental initiatives to prepare the area to be a habitat For a group of wild ducks and geese, to give an aesthetic appearance to its visitors, in addition to preserving wildlife.

Frequently asked questions

Location

  • Wadi Shawka is located in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, 100 km from the Emirate of Sharjah in the east towards the southeast, and the valley can be reached via Sharjah – Kalba Road – E102.
  • Take exit 47 to Dubai-Fujairah Road / Maliha Road – Fujairah – E84.
  • Take exit 67 towards Asfni, turn right at Assefni and head towards Wadi Shawka dam.

Best season

You can visit the valley between October and April, however care must be taken during the rains in the winter.

Activities

Mountain cyclist
  • Take a walk
  • Mountain biking
  • Running
  • Camping
  • Off-road driving
  • Yoga and enjoying nature
  • Picnics and barbecues



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Nature: Male bats secrete a smelly mixture of saliva, faeces, urine and semen to attract females

Nature: Male bats secrete a smelly mixture of saliva, faeces, urine and semen to attract females


In what is a definite case of don’t-try-this-at-home, it turns out that male bats secrete a smelly mixture of faeces, saliva, semen and urine to attract females.

Researchers from Panama studied odorous secretions and smell-producing structures in various live bat species, alongside consulting past studies.

They found that at least a tenth of all bat species use scent to attract a partner, either using special scent glands or by daubing themselves in whiffy bodily secretions.

The findings help explain how bats can find mates in the dark, where they can’t see the visual cues — like flashy feathers or thick manes — on which other animals rely. 

Mariana Muñoz-Romo / Paul B. Jones

In what is a definite case of don’t-try-this-at-home, it turns out that male bats secrete a smelly mixture of faeces, saliva, semen and urine to attract females. Pictured, a male long-nosed bat seen in Venezuela during the mating season, with one such odorous patch on its back

The finding helps explain how bats can find mates in the dark, where they can't see the visual cues — like flashy feathers or thick manes — on which other animals rely. Pictured, an adult male northern ghost bat, Diclidurus albus. The white arrow is pointing out its so-called uropatagial glands, which becomes more prominent during the mating season

The finding helps explain how bats can find mates in the dark, where they can’t see the visual cues — like flashy feathers or thick manes — on which other animals rely. Pictured, an adult male northern ghost bat, Diclidurus albus. The white arrow is pointing out its so-called uropatagial glands, which becomes more prominent during the mating season

TELLING SMELLING 

Smell is a powerful and informative sense for many mammal species.

Studies have shown that, from scent, some mammals can determine such details as another individual’s age, health, sex, identity, social status, group membership and even sexual receptiveness.

This, experts said, suggests that odour likely has a key role in mate selection among most mammals.

In fact, studies have found that this is important for us humans too when it comes to picking out a partner.

With the exception of their genitalia, most species of bats have females and males that look essentially indistinguishable from each other.

However, during the flying mammal’s mating season, experts have identified odor-producing glands or structures that are only present in male bats.

In their study, zoologist Mariana Muñoz-Romo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama City, and colleagues studied long-nosed bats — or ‘Leptonycteris curasoae’ — living in Venezuela.

The team found that, in the mating season, males exhibit an odorous patch on their backs that consisted of a blend of faeces, saliva, urine and/or semen that, peculiarly, seem to help attract reproductive females to them.

Back in Panama, Professor Muñoz-Romo turned her attention to the ‘perfumes’ emitted from smelly crusts that male fringe-lipped bats  — ‘Trachops cirrhosis’ — diligently apply to their forearms every mating season.

The timing of these activities convinced the chemical communication expert that these odours were key to helping bats to pick out mates in the dark. 

In fact, the team believe that female fringe-lipped bats base their evaluate of prospective mates on the size of these odorous arm crusts.

To investigate further, the team delved into the existing literature — finding reports of odour-producing structures in 121 bat species from across a total of 15 families — which is equivalent to 10 per cent of all currently known bat species.

According to the researchers, the odours come from various parts of the flying mammals’ bodies, from their heads and mouths to their wings and genitalia. 

Chemical signals, they added, are potent and effective for communicating in dark conditions, while not impeding the bats’ ability to fly.

‘These key factors — nocturnality and powered flight — combined with scent-producing glands common across mammals,’ said Professor Muñoz-Romo.

This, she continued, ‘promoted the evolution of a great diversity of the odorous displaying structures we find in bats.’

The team studied the 'perfumes' emitted from smelly crusts that male fringe-lipped bats — 'Trachops cirrhosis' diligently apply to their forearms every mating season, as pictured

The team studied the ‘perfumes’ emitted from smelly crusts that male fringe-lipped bats — ‘Trachops cirrhosis’ diligently apply to their forearms every mating season, as pictured

The team said that very little is known at present about bats’ odour producing structures — and that there are likely many more to be discovered.

‘Differences between males and females (sexual dimorphism) in bats have long been overlooked,’ said paper author and vertebrate behaviour expert Rachel Page, also of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

‘New tools are giving us an ever-expanding window into their previously cryptic social lives,’ she added.

‘The patterns revealed here sharpen the focus of investigations going forward, in particular highlighting the importance of seasonally present odor-producing glands and soft tissues.’

‘With so many bat species still to be studied, it will be extremely exciting to see what lies on the horizon.’ 

‘Future investigations should consider the importance of the timing of odor production and sexual behaviour,’ added Professor Muñoz-Romo.

‘Most of these traits are displayed during a specific and usually short time of the year — the mating season.’

‘Answering new questions about the nature and development of the odorous traits, as well as understanding which traits female bats prefer, are key to understanding why differences between males and females evolved.’

‘We also want to understand the chemistry of bat perfumes — what compounds make them attractive.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Mammal Review.  

SCENT AND HUMANS: RESEARCH REVEALED HOW ARMPIT AROMAS CAN BE A CUE FOR PASSION 

Ladies, you can put away the perfume and seductive lingerie.

For the only signal a man needs to tell if a woman is in the mood for a passionate encounter is to pay attention to their natural smells, a study found.

Scientists found that men are able to detect subtle changes in the armpit aroma of women who are aroused.

And far from being a turn-off, it gets chaps in the mood too. It is believed to be the first study to confirm men can detect pheromones in sweat when women are sexually excited.

Researchers from Kent University got 24 male students to smell cotton pads put under the armpits of young women without deodorant.

In the first test, the women read an article about knitting and watched a short film about bridge-building. 

The men, who had no idea what the other group had been doing, were asked to rate whether they found the scent stimulating or not afterwards. 

A week later, the experiment was repeated but the women read erotic passages from 50 Shades Of Grey and watched sex scenes from a film. 

The results showed men found the odours much more intense and sexually arousing in those that had been reading or viewing erotic material. 

Researchers said: ‘Our findings provide evidence that humans can signal and process the smell of sexual arousal. 

‘They are among the first to show women’s arousal leads to the release of a distinctive scent that increases men’s sexual motivation. Men evaluate the sweat of sexually aroused females as more attractive than their non-sexual sweat.’ 

The study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

Previous studies have suggested women give off a certain aroma at their most fertile time of the month. 

Others suggest humans can smell chemicals in those gripped by fear. 

 



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