The recovery of otters but the decline in water voles

The Good – Otters

Following a period of rapid decline in the latter part of the 20th Century, the European Otter (Lutra lutra) is now showing signs of population recovery and re-colonisation of former habitats. The main reasons for the decline has been attributed to loss of habitat, indirect poisoning from the use of now banned agricultural pesticides accumulating in the food chain, and degraded water quality due to pollution.

Otters receive full legal protection under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. It is a criminal offence to deliberately, capture, disturb, injure or kill them or to damage, destroy or obstruct their breeding or resting places.

In the UK, otters have been recorded using almost every type of waterway such as canals, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and streams. In England and Wales they are found mostly in freshwater systems but can also utilise suitable coastal habitats.

Surveying for the presence of otters is reliant on field signs and therefore should be carried out in dry weather. A fixed distance, both sides of the watercourse will be examined for signs such as above and under-ground resting sites (couches and holts), droppings (spraints), feeding remnants and tracks.

The Bad – Water Voles

The water vole (Arvicola amphibious) is an herbivorous semi-aquatic rodent, the largest of UK’s three species of vole, similar in size to a brown rat.  They can inhabit most wetland habits, such as canals, marshes, ponds, reed-beds, rivers and streams, but favour stable slow flowing or still waters with steep sided bank sides with sufficient vegetation for food and cover. They create an extensive system of burrows in the bank-sides and can also make nests woven out of vegetation at the base of reeds and rushes, or nest in clumps of rushes or grass tussocks in wet fields and meadows.

Water voles have suffered a major population decline due to the loss and fragmentation of their habitat, and more recently this decline has been accelerated due to predation by the American mink introduced. It is estimated that the species has been from approximately 90% of the sites where it occurred in the last century.

From April 2008 the water vole and its breeding and resting places are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The water vole is also a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority terrestrial mammal species.

Direct sightings of water voles are rare, therefore most surveys  to find them along watercourses are based on the presence of signs such as burrows, droppings, feeding stations, footprints and latrines.

How does ecological consultancy fit in with all of this?

Ecological consultants offer advice to a variety of organisations and individuals on issues related to wildlife and the species that are protected, such as otters and water voles. This advice is often in response to planning related requests such as those for major developments like road building, housing development, wind farms or for new factories, schools or hospitals.

Long-beaked Echidna

It is a fact of common knowledge that wildlife is one of the most intricate and diverse environmental issues. On the one hand, the number of animal species cannot but amaze, but on the other– lots of species are threatened with constant poaching, destruction of their habitat, poisoning and even climate change occurring right now. Among endangered species there are a lot of interesting and unique representatives, suffering greatly from human activity.

Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna is likely to be the most peculiar mammal in Australia, the land abundant in endemics and one-of-the-kind animals. In its turn, echidna happened to be the only mammal that can lay eggs and feed offspring with milk at the same time! Long-beaked echidna was considered extinct for a long time, but in 2007 zoologists’ expedition has discovered some representatives of the species. These echidnas were called after their discoverer – David Attenborough. However, long-beaked echidna is still in the list of endangered species.

Have you heard of saola? Due to its specific appearance it is also nicknamed as “Asian unicorn”. So, one can imagine the extraordinary nature of this hoofed species. The existence of such animals was not revealed until 1992 and its discovery, by the way, is recognized as one of the most astonishing during the last half of the century. At the time the population of saola was little, and to date it has worsened even more. Reasonably, saolas were announced as endangered species in Laos; its decline has been associated with permanent poaching using hunting dogs. In addition, the situation is enhanced by the fact that saolas cannot be kept in Zoos, where the staff cannot manage proper habitat. None saola is kept in the Zoo around the world.

River dolphin’s familyis the oldest dolphin species, considering they lived millions years ago. These strange dolphins are almost blind. There are to main sites where populations of river dolphins were recorded – Amazon and Yangtze Rivers. Especially, this species is highly valued in China, where it is equal to a nation’s patrimony. Although poaching of river dolphins was banned in 1982, the population of this marine mammal continues to reduce. According to Chinese zoologists, dolphins fromYangtze River cannot be bred in captivity and the entire river dolphins’ population might disappear in 10 years.

One more original Asian mammal is Chinese pangolin. The key thing about this Asian is its skin, which is formed with scales. In sober fact, the scales are glued wool of the pangolin, comprising nearly 25 per cent of animal weight. It is also an exciting attraction for pangolin poachers, who hunt these animals for their skin, meat and scales. Purposes of Traditional Chinese Medicine require pangolin’s body parts, as well as those ones of other unique mammals. So, one could guess, there are pretty a lot of reasons to hunt pangolins in China despite animals’ rarity and exceptional appearance.

Top 5 Online Photography Forums

Looking to learn more from your photography colleagues? Online photography forums are the best way to discuss your passion with others from any location and at any time. Whether you are looking to discuss the latest camera equipment or talk about how to pull off a tricky photo shoot, the following five photography forums will help you meet the people who may have the answers you need.

New Bright Apples
New Bright Apples is an online photography community featuring an array of educational resources for all photography skill levels. Read articles written by fellow photographers, search the classified ads for equipment and job openings, learn more about taking pictures in the online classroom and chat with other photographers in the forum. New Bright Apples is a true “one stop shop” for those looking to immerse themselves in all things photography.

Canon Digital Photography Forums
Are you a follower of all things Canon? If so, the Canon Digital Photography Forums website is for you. This forum is made up of a community of photographers who are looking to discuss Canon digital cameras and equipment. Some threads can be quite technical in content, but users also post great reviews that are helpful for anyone looking to purchase new or used equipment.

For photographers who prefer Nikon, there is also an online forum for you, too. The Nikonites site is a fully-loaded website that features Nikon products, blog articles, example photo galleries and a community forum. The photo gallery is a nice complement to the forum, because it includes information for the make, model, date, time, ISO, flash speed, software, F stop and focal length, making it easy for you to try to duplicate the photographic conditions.

The PhotoForum
This forum covers both digital and film photography and includes several photo galleries that are great for beginners who are learning new techniques and genres. Threads are well organized, and the site design is easy for users to navigate. The Photo Forum also holds regular photo contests for community members.

Pixtus is great, because it features several “how to” videos. These are perfect for beginner and intermediate photographers looking for free photography technique tips. The site’s forum is well-organized and easy to navigate. For community members living in the United States, there are also threads for each region of the country, in case you want to get to know your neighbors!

Karen Smith is a freelance writer and business blogger whose primary goal is to inform her readers about pursuing a business degree online. She also enjoys writing about small business trends, internet marketing, personal development and sustainable living. Karen welcomes your comments below!

‘Going Green’ – A Practical Approach

Going green is a term that is tossed around by different people. Its definition is often changed to fit one’s opinion. Some say conservation, while others reply renewable. The argument can go on and on. But, no matter who wins the debate, the fact of the matter is humans are and will always be consumers. We will always use and need resources. While this is the truth, we cannot escape the fact that we are on one planet and this means that our resources our limited. It is important that we take charge of this and change our own ways. We cannot wait for the government to make the changes for us. It should be something we can do on our own.

Here are a few practical ways to ‘go green’:

Use Less, Buy Less, and Waste Less

Be a conscious buyer. Buy things that you will only use for a long time. According to a study made, only 1 percent of what you buy today will still be in use 6 months later. That means you will be putting to waste 99 percent of what you buy from packaging to even the unit you have. While there are some things that we need, it is critical that we are not caught up in a cycle of shopping for the sake of shopping.


Spend to Save

Cost versus savings is often an idea that is superseded by time. If you want to really find the true value of your savings, you need to look at it from a long-term perspective. One reason people end up paying more and replacing things often is that they only see things in short-term. Some things may initially cost less but might cost you a lot more as years go by in replacements. For instance, if you are building a home, invest in adding thicker insulation. This might be an added expense but it is one easy way to lower your energy bills in heating and cooling.

Investing in Green Energy

Solar panels are good ideas to have, but not everyone will be able to afford the cost, installation and maintenance. However, if it is available in your area, you can opt to appropriate your electricity costs to more renewable sources. Electric companies like AGL in Australia supply renewable power to homes in Queensland. By signing up to these green programs, one can choose how much of their home will be powered by electricity from renewable energy. In turn the money one invests goes into financing, building, and maintaining renewable energy power programs.

The truth is saving the environment cannot simply be done in 3 steps. While recycling, reducing, and reusing helps, there are a lot more things needed for use to truly ‘go green’. It is still a long journey to living in a green society. But, like all journeys, we need to make the first step.

Author Bio

Gene Armstrong is an energy expert based in Australia. He specializes in knowledge about energy efficiency and green energy.

Harmful Effects Of Deforestation

Deforestation means large scale cutting of forests. The forest lands are converted in to farms, ranches and urban areas through deforestation. Another cause behind deforestation is the cutting of trees for timber and fuel. Deforestation has also been used in war situations to deprive an enemy of cover for its forces and other vital resources. It essentially leads to extinction of vital things and destroys the ecological balance of nature. Thus causing:-

Heavy Soil Erosion – The roots of the trees hold the soil firmly keeping it intact. With large scale deforestation soil erosion and landslides have become a normal phenomenon. During heavy rains and typhoons soil is washed away to lower regions. This increases the risk for landslides which can cause seriously threaten the safety of the people and damage their properties.

Extinction of flora and fauna – Destruction of the forests leads to a tragic loss of biodiversity. Millions of plants and animal species are on the verge of extinction due to deforestation. Countries with tropical forests suffer the greatest causalities due to deforestation.

Relocation of wild life to urban areas – Many wild animals have started relocating to urban areas as a result of massive deforestation. There have been many cases of various wild animals like snakes, bats etc causing accidents in urban areas. Many times wild animals get killed in an effort to capture them. There have been instances of carnivorous predators like lions, tigers and wolfs preying on humans in villages surrounded by forests.

Global warming – The trees absorb the harmful carbon dioxide and release the life sustaining oxygen, thus acting as natural friends of humans. Deforestation increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to global warming due to green house effect.

Silting of Rivers and Dams – Deforestation causes large scale deposition of sediments in the rivers. This leads to collection of sediments in the dams, thus reducing their lifespan.

Flooding – Trees absorb water in large quantities during heavy rains. But due to large scale deforestation there are very less tress to retain water. This again leads to heavy floods causing heavy loss of life and property.

Desertification – Deforestation is one of the causes behind the conversion of many fertile tracts of land to deserts. This phenomenon is known as desertification. When mountain forest faces desertion, watersheds are degraded and this leads to the loss of sustained water supplies for lowland communities.

Danger of submersion of coastal areas and glaciers – Due to massive deforestation, the average temperature of the earth has risen in the last century. If this phenomenon continues then the increased temperatures would lead to melting of glaciers. This would lead to a massive rise in the sea levels leading to submersion of coastal areas.

Keeping these dire consequences in mind, an honest effort should be made by the human civilization to conserve forests.

Summary- Deforestation means large scale cutting of forests which leads to extinction of various species, relocation of wildlife animals, global warming etc. Have a look at some of the other implication of this brutal act towards nature.

Author- Bio:- Gaurav Tandon works as freelance editor for a popular online magazine that creates awareness about environment friendly ways to life. In his free time he contributes write ups to other websites, blogs and magazines to spread knowledge about creating harmony in nature. Most of his writings cover Eco-friendly tips like afforestation, soil conservation and preserving natural resources for wildlife management in Richmond Va.