Society for the Protection of Underground Networks

Hotspots of mycorrhizal fungi are thought to be under threat, from agriculture, urbanisation, pollution, water scarcity and changes to the climate. Photograph: Biosphoto/Alamy

We featured three articles by Fiona Harvey, Environment correspondent for the Guardian, each in 2016 on quite different topics, and then we did not see her again until today. Our attention to fungi has been constant since Milo got the topic started in 2011, and SPUN’s mapping project counts as good news:

World’s vast networks of underground fungi to be mapped for first time

Project aims to help protect some of trillions of miles of the ‘circulatory system of the planet’

Vast networks of underground fungi – the “circulatory system of the planet” – are to be mapped for the first time, in an attempt to protect them from damage and improve their ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Continue reading

Microplastics Killing Fish


Microplastics visible in a pike. Photograph: Oona Lönnstedt/Science

We’ve posted about microplastics before, since they are becoming a problem for oceans’ health. They can be found in sea salts and all over our shores, but also in fish, where the tiny particles stunt growth and alter the behavior of some species that ingest the plastics. Fiona Harvey reports for The Guardian:

Fish are being killed, and prevented from reaching maturity, by the litter of plastic particles finding their way into the world’s oceans, new research has proved.

Some young fish have been found to prefer tiny particles of plastic to their natural food sources, effectively starving them before they can reproduce.

The growing problem of microplastics – tiny particles of polymer-type materials from modern industry – has been thought for several years to be a peril for fish, but the study published on Thursday is the first to prove the damage in trials.

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Kenya Burns Over 100 Tons of Illegal Ivory

Kenya will burn about 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horn in 11 large pyres, about seven times the amount previously burned in a single event. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP via The Guardian

We featured poaching a few weeks ago here, in the case of primates, and we have discussed the illegal ivory trade and other endangered wildlife on the black market before. This weekend, Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian, Kenya burned a massive amount of tusks from poached elephants, in a symbolic act of destruction that presumably cost the black market millions of dollars, and thousands of elephants their lives:

Tusks from more than 6,000 illegally killed elephants will be burned in Kenya on Saturday, the biggest ever destruction of an ivory stockpile and the most striking symbol yet of the plight of one of nature’s last great beasts.

The ceremonial burning in Nairobi national park at noon will be attended by Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, heads of state including Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, high-ranking United Nations and US officials, and charities. A wide network of conservation groups around the world have sent messages applauding the work.

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WWF Reports Half of World Heritage Sites Put at Risk by Development

Ambatotsondrona cliffs, in the Marojejy National Park of Madagascar. This park is one of several included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Rainforests of the Atsinanana, which has been declared In Danger. Photo by Jeff Gibbs via WikiMedia Commons

We deeply care about UNESCO World Heritage Sites anywhere on the globe, and believe they can be a great conservation tool, so reading that the World Wildlife Fund thinks almost three times more of the Sites are threatened than UNESCO lists as “In Danger” is worrisome, to say the least. Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian:

Close to half of the sites around the world designated for special protection as areas of outstanding importance for nature are now being threatened by industrial development, a new survey has shown.

The sites, which include Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon in the US, and China’s giant panda sanctuaries in Szechuan, are all supposed to be protected under the United Nations’ designated world heritage status. But encroachments from industries, including fossil fuel exploration and illegal logging, are threatening to destroy the valuable habitats, the conservation charity WWF said on Wednesday.

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