Archive for the ‘Go Green’ Category

Eye proof of deforestation

June 9, 2009

Gishwati Forest, Rwanda

Deforestation - acquired July 19, 1986

Deforestation - acquired July 19, 1986

 

Deforestation - acquired December 11, 2001

Deforestation - acquired December 11, 2001

 

Rwanda is a small, mountainous country in east-central Africa, just a few degrees south of the equator. The country’s high elevation provides it with a tropical temperate climate, two dry and two rainy seasons each year, and relatively abundant surface water. With an estimated population in excess of 9 million, Rwanda is mainland Africa’s most densely populated country, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Although protected areas in Rwanda increased slightly between 1990 and 2005, the large population puts intense pressure on the land.
That pressure is evident in this pair of images showing deforestation in Gishwati Forest, a protected area in the northwestern part of the country, not far from Lake Kivu. NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite captured the top image on December 11, 2001. NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite captured the bottom image on July 19, 1986. Densely forested areas are deep green.
According to UNEP, the reserve’s forests were largely intact in 1978, and substantial forest cover still remained in 1986. But in the 15 years that elapsed between these images—a time that spanned the country’s tragic genocide—wave after wave of refugees arrived in Gishwati Forest and began clearing it, often for subsistence farming. By 2001, only a small circular patch of native forest remained—1,500 acres of the forest’s original 250,000.
Large tea estates occupy the central and northern parts of the reserve. The tea-growing areas are lighter green, and the dark green patches are probably plantations of eucalyptus or pine trees. (The wood boilers that produce the heat for drying tea consume huge amounts of firewood.)
Rwandan deforestation was driven by the need for food, medicine, charcoal, and timber, especially for commercial products. But the loss of so many trees in a rainy, mountainous country has had severe environmental consequences. In addition to tremendous loss of biodiversity, the region experiences soil erosion and degradation and landslides. UNEP hoped that innovative agroforestry techniques would help restore the vegetation, and reported that the forested land area in Rwanda had grown between 1990 and 2005. Reforestation efforts at Gishwati in the past few years have increased the remnant native forest to about 2,500 acres.
In 2008, the Rwandan government and the American conservation group Great Ape Trust of Iowa began a partnership to restore a corridor of native forest between Gishwati and the much larger Nyungwe Forest National Park, in southern Rwanda. They hope the corridor will preserve the genetic diversity of Rwanda’s remaining populations of chimpanzees.

  • References

  • Great Ape Trust of Iowa. (2008, January 14). Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest Selected as Site for Historic Conservation Project. Accessed June 8, 2009.
  • Thanks to NASA eo_anniversary

    10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

    March 21, 2009
    Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone’s “going green.” Wh should take the action right now. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably.
    The 10 simple things we can do today to help reduce our environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life.

    1. Save energy to save money

    Save Energy
    Save Energy

     

    • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
      Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a “smart” power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying. If you must use a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time.

    2. Save water to save money

    Save Water

    Save Water

    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don’t cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

    3. Less Fuel = More money (and better health!)

     

     

     

     

    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

    4. Eat Smart

     

     

     

     

    • If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it’s even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
    • Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
    • Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
    • Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.

     

    5. Skip the bottled water

     

     

     

    • Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
    • Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
    • Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.

     

     

     

     

    6. Think before you buy

     

     

    Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you’ve just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.

    Garage Sale

    Garage Sale

    •  
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • When making purchases, make sure you know what’s “Good Stuff” and what isn’t.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

    7. Borrow instead of buying

     

     

     

     

    • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

     

    8. Buy Smart

     

     

     

     

    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
       
      Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you’ll be happy when you don’t have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

    9. Keep electronics out of the trash

    Electronic Trash

    Electronic Trash

    • Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
    • Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
    • Recycle your cell phone.
    • Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.

    10. Make your own cleaning supplies

    Non-Toxic

    Non-Toxic

    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
    Buy Smart

    Buy Smart

     

     

    Library

    Library

     

     

    Skip Bottled Water

    Skip Bottled Water

     

     

    Eat Smart

    Eat Smart

     

     

    Save Fuel

    Save Fuel

    Save Earth – Plant a Tree

    December 24, 2008

    In the developed world the average[1] persons carbon dioxide emissions are almost 10 metric tonnes per year.

    PATT Foundation

    PATT Foundation

    This is called their carbon footprint and comes mainly from their household energy usage and transport requirements car travel, flights and commuter transport. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which, when released into the atmosphere, acts like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun’s heat. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the planet to warm up. To help prevent global warming, we all need to reduce our emissions and look at ways we can mitigate the emissions left over that we are responsible for. Trees are a natural green machine which absorb carbon from the atmosphere and release it as oxygen. To this end, trees are an effective way of absorbing the carbon you release into the atmosphere.

    Reduce your emissions

    • Reducing your emissions is a vital part of combating climate change. We encourage everyone to be aware of their energy usage and its effects, and take steps to reduce this. What remains can be offset through our Carbon Free programme.
    • By being more energy efficient at home, you can reduce your emissions and lower your energy bills by more than 30%.
    • Adjust your air conditioner and heater thermostat when you go out and shut down your system when you are away for extended periods.
    • Turn off and unplug stereos, radios, TVs, and DVDs when you leave for holidays. These appliances have a stand-by function that uses energy even when they are turned off.
    • Close doors to unused rooms trapping heating or cooling in rooms in use.
    • Consider switching to compact fluorescent lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
    • Insulating your walls and ceilings can save 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills and reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 1 tonne per year.
    • Clean all of your heating and cooling appliances, making sure they are dust free. Energy is lost when heating units have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters. Ensuring that your air conditioner filter is clean can save 5 percent of the energy used.
    • Wash your dishes manually, or ensure your dishwasher is full when you run it. Allow your dishes to air dry, by not using the heat in the drying cycle can save 20 percent of your dishwasher’s total electricity use.
    • Where possible walk or bike to your destination. Fuel use through transport constitutes a large proportion of total UK emissions.
      Recycle glass, metals, plastics and paper.
    • Plant shade trees and paint your house a light color if you live in a warm climate or a dark color if you live in a cold climate.
      Turn your refrigerator down.
    • Select the most energy-efficient models when you replace your old appliances. Look for the Energy Star Label – your assurance that the product saves energy and prevents pollution.
    • Slow down and drive sensibly. The faster and more aggressive you drive, the more petrol your car uses.

    The role of trees in offsetting your emissions

    Trees are green machines that act as natural filters of our air. Through the process of photosynthesis they absorb carbon dioxide (a key GHG and principle contributor to global warming) from the atmosphere and store it in their trunk, branches, leaves, roots, soil and foliage, while releasing oxygen back out.

    Whereas deforestation, degradation and poor forest management reduce carbon storage in forests, sustainable management, planting, and rehabilitation of forests can increase carbon sequestration.  In fact the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation states “global carbon retention resulting from reduced deforestation, increased forest regrowth and more agro-forestry and plantations could make up for about 15% of carbon emissions from fossil fuels over the next 50 years (2006).”

    Not only are trees an effective means for absorbing and storing the carbon you emit, they have far reaching benefits that extend well beyond that of filtering the air. Sustainably managed forests and urban forestry projects have multiple environmental and socio-economic functions important at the global, national and local scales, and play a vital part in sustainable development. Forests are sources of wood products. They help regulate local and regional rainfall. And forests are crucial sources of food, medicine, clean drinking water, and immense recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits for millions of people.

    – by PATT Foundation