natural world

Pilgrims bathing in the holy river Narmada at Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, India. Photo: Mahesh Basedia via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To discover the 'rights of a river', first think like a river

Debadityo Sinha
| 22nd May 2017
There is a growing global movement to recognise the rights of rivers, writes Debadityo Sinha. But rights alone are not enough. We must love and respect rivers, and even think like rivers to understand the vital functions they perform within landscapes and ecosystems, and so discover where their 'best interests' truly lie. And then we must be willing to act: protecting rivers and restoring them to health and wholeness.

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John Muir, full-length portrait, facing right, seated on rock with lake and trees in background, circa 1902. Photo: unknbown via Library of Congress (Public Domain).

Divine ecstasy of Nature: Selected Writings by John Muir

Terry Tempest Williams
| 17th May 2017
May this new collection of John Muir's writings reach us now and inspire another generation to fall in love with wild nature, to care for it, to know that wilderness is not optional but central to our survival in the centuries to come, writes Terry Tempest Williams - and remind us how to embrace this beautiful, broken world once again with an open heart. If we do approach the mountain, it is we who are moved.

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Who says nature is not worth valuing in economic measurements? Sadly, most mainstream economists. Photo: Golden Pond on the University of Victoria campus, BC, Canada, by Nick Kenrick via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Measures of poverty and well-being still ignore the environment - this must change

Judith Schleicher
Bhaskar Vira
University of Cambridge
| 15th March 2017
Orthodox economic measures like Gross Domestic product fail to measure the things that matter most, write Judith Schleicher & Bhaskar Vira: like human wellbeing and ecological health. This creates a systematic bias in 'development' policies that must urgently be addressed if we are to build an inclusive, equitable and sustainable society

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Boxing Day Hunt and Hounds in Chiddingstone, Kent, England. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Pity the poor hounds! Bovine TB, foxhounds and the biosecurity black hole

Lesley Docksey
| 15th March 2017
The 25 TB-infected hounds of the Kimblewick hunt, all put down, remind us that the lot of hunting dogs is not a happy one, writes Lesley Docksey. Unloved and at constant risk of slaughter, they are prone to a host of diseases, from bovine TB to brucellosis, neospora and botulism, which they can pass on to farm stock, humans and other dogs. They deserve better!

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The Rollright Stones in North Oxfordshire, not far from Paul's home town of Banbury. Photo: Cyrus Mower via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Noise, the 'ignored pollutant': health, nature and ecopsychology

Paul Mobbs
| 9th March 2017
The sonic backdrop to our lives is increasingly one of unwanted technospheric noise, writes Paul Mobbs. And as it eclipses the sounds of nature, it's taking its toll on our health, wellbeing and quality of life. So as well as campaigning for more trees, and quieter cars, trucks and aircraft, what's to be done? Let us seek out calm moments of quiet tranquillity - and listen to the birds.

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Hounds observing slaughtered fallen cattle.

Bovine TB found in foxhounds - and nothing to do with badgers! Now what?

Lesley Docksey
| 9th March 2017
The news that the Kimblewick Hunt's hounds are infested with bovine TB has come as a shock to farmers and hunters, writes Lesley Docksey. But it's no surprise to campaigners against the badger cull, who have long complained about poor farm hygiene and the feeding by hunts of disease-ridden 'fallen cattle' carcasses to foxhounds - never mind that the cattle are likely bTB carriers!

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Don't forget the microphone! An Earth Touch cameraman braves the unpleasant odour of Malgas Island to get some awesome shots, and sounds, of cape gannets. Photo: Earth Touch via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Listen up! Soundscapes reveal nature's ecological secrets

Ella Browning
UCL
| 8th March 2017
To find out about habitats, species and ecosystems are faring, don't just look, writes Ella Browning. Listen! Many species are hard to see, but have distinct auditory signatures, and advances in electronics suggest a future of landscapes 'wired for sound' feeding data streams for ecological analysis, not to mention detecting criminal activities from 'black' fishing to illegal logging and hunting.

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From front cover of 'Slugs and Snails by Robert Cameron, published by Harper Collins.

Slugs and snails

Martin Spray
| 7th March 2017
In this long-anticipated volume, Robert Cameron introduces us to the natural history of slugs and snails of the British Isles, writes Martin Spray, also venturing across the world to explore the wide range of structures and ways of life of slugs and snails, particularly their sometimes bizarre mating habits, which in turn help to illuminate the ways in which evolution has shaped the living world.

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Badger trying to keep out of trouble in the Somerset cull area, September 2015. Photo: Somerset Badger Patrol via Facebook.

Putting the 'con' into consultation and the 'fiction' into science: England's badger cull

Lesley Docksey
| 27th February 2017
We know the outcome of Defra's latest 'public consultation' on killing badgers long before the results have even been analysed, writes Lesley Docksey. Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom has already promised farmers to extend the cull 'even further' - although it brings no proven benefits. Welcome to the new world of 'alternative facts' that's driving UK government policy.

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Photo: Somerset Badger Patrol Group via Facebook.

'You'll never walk alone': highs and lows of badger patrolling against the cull

Lesley Docksey
| 17th February 2017
If you love wildlife and enjoy country walks, you've got the makings of a badger patroller, writes Lesley Docksey. You can walk at night if you want to, but daytime observation on country lanes and footpaths is no less important, watching out for the signs of cullers at work. And with the trust and warm friendship that builds among badger patrollers, you'll never be without congenial company.

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White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album), Parc de Woluwé, Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Frank Vassen via Flickr (CC BY).

Vital EU wildlife laws saved! But will UK keep them after Brexit?

Oliver Tickell
| 7th December 2016
Two key wildlife laws that underpin nature conservation across the EU will be retained intact, the EU Commission announced today after an 18 month review that generated record public engagement due to fears that they would be weakened. Now campaigners are determined to ensure the UK retains the laws post-Brexit.

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A portrait of Luc taken in the Rheinthal (Switzerland) in May 2007.

Heaven's eyes: Luc Hoffmann, unsung hero of nature conservation

James Breiding
| 23rd November 2016
Born into the wealthy family that founded the Roche pharmaceutical and chemical giant, Luc Hoffman turned his back on the comforts of wealth at an early age, writes James Breiding, and dedicated his life, and his money, to conservation. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to this man of few words, encyclopedic knowledge, decisive action and unswerving commitment.

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From front cover of 'The man who ate the zoo' by Richard Girling, published by Chatto & Windus.

Frank Buckland: 'the man who ate the zoo'

Martin Spray
| 8th November 2016
As Victorian eccentrics go, Frank Buckland was a prime specimen, writes Martin Spray. But this new book about his rich and remarkable life is much more than a collection of anecdotes about his extraordinary doings, his inordinate curiosity about the natural world, and the animals he kept - and ate: a stimulating companion for wet days, cold evenings and wakeful nights.

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Once a rainforest ... land cleared for a palm oil plantation, Indonesia. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Privatizing nature, outsourcing governance: the economics of extinction

Margi Prideaux
| 7th November 2016
The 'Global Redesign Initiative', a project of the World Economic Forum, aims to replace UN-based intergovernmental decision-making with unaccountable 'multi-stakeholder governance' run by and for corporations, writes Margi Prideaux. What future for nature and people in this brave new world? Generate profits for investors, or face extinction or exclusion to the margins of existence.

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Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark
| 14th September 2016
The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task.

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Durham Wildlife Trust volunteers surveying invertebrate populations at Stanley Moss, Sunniside, England. Photo: Dougie Nisbet via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

'State of Nature': a labour of love by Britain's conservation heroes

Dr Mark Eaton
| 14th September 2016
The 'State of Nature' report, published today, is the apex of a vast pyramid of loving and heroic toil by many thousands of volunteer naturalists, writes Dr Mark Eaton - hard at work in all seasons in our marshes, forests, mountains, swamps and farmland. But do we have the young recruits to keep this wonderful tradition going?

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English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist
| 23rd August 2016
England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction.

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Front cover of 'Badgered to Death' by Dominic Dyer (exerpt), published by Canbury Press.

Why are our badgers ‘Badgered to Death'?

Lesley Docksey
| 23rd August 2016
With today's news that badger culling will continue in Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset, and take place in three other counties, writes LESLEY DOCKSEY, there could be no more opportune moment for Dominic Dyer's new book 'Badgered to Death' to appear - expertly exposing the total absence of scientific evidence that badgers transmit bovine TB to cattle.

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Shooting grouse in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Photo: Richard Woffenden via Flickr (CC BY).

Time to close down Britain's devastating grouse-shooting industry

Eduardo Goncalves
| 18th August 2016
The disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier on a Scottish grouse moor and the loss of eight Golden eagles in five years provide the latest evidence for a ban on driven grouse-shooting, writes EDUARDO GONCALVES. But birds of prey are only the most high-profile victims of a cruel and ecologically destructive industry.

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Might England's badgers finally be getting lucky? Don't count on it. Photo: Andrew 3457 via Flickr (CC BY).

Post-Brexit Britain cannot afford the badger cull!

Lesley Docksey
| 27th July 2016
The government may want to press ahead with the English badger cull, writes Lesley Docksey. But after the Brexit vote it may just cost too much - for taxpayers and for the farmers who bear part an increasing share of the expense, now facing the loss of the 55% of their income that currently comes from Brussels.

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NATURE vs NATURAL CAPITAL

Victor Anderson
| 26th July 2016
The idea of "Natural Capital" as a way of seeing the world has caught on in a big way. There is a Natural Capital Coalition, a Natural Capital Protocol, and the Government even has a Natural Capital Committee. But what assumptions lurk within this term "Natural Capital"? A new University of Anglia arts-funded project aims to find out and one of those involved VICTOR ANDERSON will be giving us regular updates on the issues being raised

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