Archive for Natural Disasters
e360.yale.edu 27th September 2012
Quoted from source:
‘Two massive earthquakes in April in the Indian Ocean and an unusual series of aftershocks may signal the formation of a new tectonic plate boundary within Earth’s surface. Reporting in the journal Nature, French scientists say that an analysis of the two April 11 earthquakes — one of magnitude 8.6 and the other of magnitude 8.2 — shows that they were not typical quakes that occur when one plate slides under another or two plates slip horizontally along a fault line. Instead, the earthquakes, caused by breaks along four faults in the Indian Ocean and accompanied by an unusually large number of aftershocks, indicate that the Indo-Australian tectonic plate may be breaking up. “It’s the clearest example of newly formed plate boundaries,” said Matthias Delescluse, a geophysicist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. The researchers said that the massive and deadly 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, as well as another earthquake in 2005, may also have been related to the April quakes and the breakup of the Indo-Australian plate.’
A new short film called ‘What’s the Catch’ by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) that highlights the problems of pirate fishing.
www.bbc.co.uk 3rd August 2011
The UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit has reported that in the next 4 to 6 weeks all regions of southern Somalia will be affected by famine. Three new regions have been declared in a state of famine over the past few days bringing the number of people affected in the entire Horn of Africa to around 11 million. These regions are the Balcad and Cadale districts of the middle Shabelle region and areas surrounding the capital of Mogadishu. The drought causing such mass starvation is the worst the country has seen in 60 years and the UN have warned that an end is not in sight until at least December of this year. In Somalia alone, almost half of the entire population (3.2 million) are in need of immediate life-saving assistance. The situation is compounded by rising food prices, which have doubled since 2010, and even tripled in some areas. It is the first time in 19 years that the country has experienced famine.
www.bbc.co.uk 22nd July 2011
Parts of the central and eastern United States have been hit by a strong heat-wave, which has caused 22 deaths already. Temperatures have peaked at 39 degrees C (99F) and as much as 50% of the entire country is under heat advisory, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The heat-wave has been caused by an unusually durable ridge of high pressure that is causing the air to sink, compress, and heat up. Due to the aridity of the phenomenon, cloud formation is low reducing the amount of solar radiation reflected back up into the atmosphere. The humidity at ground level however makes it very hard for human sweat to evaporate easily, disrupting our natural cooling system. As well as human fatalities, livestock have been hard hit with 1,500 head of cattle reported dead in South Dakota alone. Other effects of the heat-wave include power cuts in New York and unhealthy levels of smog in Chicago. Heat is the number one weather related killer in the US, according to the NWS, with an average of 162 people dying every year because of it.
www.seaweb.org 6th July 2011
In the absence of a global move to reduce carbon emissions, many have asked the question whether anything can really be done to reduce the effects of ocean acidification on the marine environment. A new paper, released in the journal Science, has tried to tackle this question by putting forward a number of ideas that could be implemented by local and national governments to better protect their coastlines. Although the growing amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is increasing the level of the gas absorbed by the oceans (thereby creating carbonic acid), several other factors also play a role in this process. Freshwater input from rivers, pollution, and soil erosion all affect the acidic level of seawater. Although the report, headed by Ryan Kelly of the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University, is aimed towards the United States, it’s lessons are relevant on a global scale. The first issue they tackle is to reduce acidification-related runoff. This can be done by using state funding and the Clean Water Act to prevent stormwater surges, upgrade water treatment facilities, and restore wetland areas. Secondly, in order to reduce coastal erosion (which carries with nutrient runoff and acidification-inducing fertilisers) local governing bodies should encourage vegetation growth that stabilises coastal sediment. Thirdly, “enforcement of federal emissions requirements for such industrial pollutants as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide should provide local benefits given these pollutants’ short atmospheric resident times.” The paper insists that these more local moves challenge the commonly held belief that the problem of ocean acidification can only be dealt with on a national scale.
www.guardian.co.uk 29th June 2011
A submarine landslide has been blamed for a tsunami that struck the English south coast on Monday (27th June). Although no damage was caused by the wave, which only measured a maximum of 40cm high, it still caused coastal waters to recede, according to one eye-witness, as much as 45 metres. Mike Davidson, an associate professor in coastal processes at the University of Plymouth (where the tsunami also struck) said the most likely explanation for the phenomenon was a landslide, possibly at a point where the seabed slopes steeply down such as on the edge of the continental shelf some 250 miles off land’s end. However, if this was the case, explained Prof Davidson, the effects of it would have been seen elsewhere along the UK coast rather than just in the South. Eye-witnesses also described experiencing a large amount of static electricity in the air causing people’s hair to stand on end.
www.bbc.co.uk 20th June 2011
According to a new report published by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the world’s oceans are in a far worse state than previously recognised. Factors such as over-fishing, pollution, and climate change are working together in a way putting marine life “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction…unprecedented in human history”. IPSO collected together experts in the fields of many marine science disciplines to write the report, including coral-reef specialists, toxicologists, ecologists and fishery specialists. “We’ve ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we’re seeing changes that are happening faster than we’d thought, or in ways that we didn’t expect to see for hundreds of years,” said Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. One of the new areas discussed by the specialists is the problem of plastics in the oceans. Plastic particles, broken down in the marine environment, act as sponges for persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. This increases the toxin uptake rate in fish that mistake plastic for food. These chemicals then bioaccumulate up the food chain causing various harmful effects. Plastic also acts as transport for algae thereby increasing the occurrence of algal blooms. Other problems are ocean acidification and coral bleaching. Five “mass extinction events” are known to have occurred in the earth’s history and, although the report says it is too early to tell, IPSO say that if mankind continues to exploit the oceans as we are, then we will cause the sixth.
e360.yale.edu 15th June 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, an oxygen-depleted area created by excessive nutrient pollution, isexpected to reach record proportions this year as a result of the extreme flooding in the Mississippi River basin, according to a forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using nutrient load data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists calculate that the hypoxic zone, also known as the “dead zone,” could cover 8,500 to 9,421 square miles, an area about the size of New Hampshire. The dead zone — which is created when algal blooms remove oxygen from the water and suffocate marine life — has reached an average 6,000 square miles during the last five years. But with the flow rate of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers nearly double the normal rate this spring, the quantity of nutrients entering the Gulf is about 35 percent higher than usual, according to NOAA. The dead zone, located along the coast, forces Gulf fishermen farther offshore.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th June 2011
The latest spell of warm weather across the UK has been the declared the driest spring in 100 years, according to the UK’s Environment Agency, causing parts of Eastern England to be given ‘drought’ status. This means farmers may have to stop taking water from local waterways and businesses such as food processors and breweries reduce water use and share resources. Despite this, the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has said that a hosepipe ban is not yet needed as reservoirs remain quite full. She did suggest people take showers instead of baths though to save water. Only one water company, Severn Trent in the Midlands, has openly said that a hosepipe ban is likely this summer. Although East Anglia is the worst affected part of the country, areas of the South West, South East, the Midlands, and Wales are designated as having ‘near-drought’ conditions. The WWF have expressed concerns that water companies make take too much water from waterways threatening such species as otters, water voles, and salmon. A spokesman said, “our water supplies have been taken for granted for far too long and now we’re facing a drought that could devastate our wildlife, rivers and crops. Ministers must act to ensure we change the way we use our water instead of wasting it through badly designed buildings and appliances, poor planning and inadequate investment.” Most cereal crops such as Barley and Wheat in East Anglia and the South East have already been lost due to dry conditions but fruits such as strawberries and cherries are having bumper yields.
Below are a series of photographs published in the L.A. Times on the devastation wrought by the tsunami in Japan this past March. Triggered from an earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter Scale, the world watched horrified as helicopter reporters filmed a series of tidal waves batter the Japanese North Eastern coastline. LMV was filming in Long Beach, California, at the time and even there warnings were sounded to stay away from the water. When we arrived in Hawaii a few days afterwards, there were fears of radiation clouds from the damaged Japanese reactors and tidal surges from the earthquake had left hotels damaged and large pieces of marine debris on the coastline. Below are a small selection of the 53 harrowing pictures to be found on the L.A. Times website.
www.bbc.co.uk 21st April 2011
Due to the continued instability of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Japanese government has brought into effect a 20km exclusion zone around the site. Although an evacuation zone has been in effect since the 9.0 earthquake hit the Japanese coast on the 11th March, it has now been made officially illegal to enter. There will, however, be a brief window for the 80,000 former residents to collect belongings. There are also believed to be as many as 60 families still living in the exclusion zone, although nobody seems to be sure where. If they do not leave, they could face the penalty of around £730 or 30 days detainment by the police. Most of the evacuees are currently living in temporary shelter in local sports halls and gymnasiums. With Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Fukushima plant operator, saying that they aim to bring the plant to a cool shutdown state within 9 months, these stranded citizens may have a long wait to return home.
The National Geographic April 2011
The Democratic Republic of Congo is an unstable country. Home to the world’s largest UN peacekeeping force (20,000 troops), the central African nation is still on the brink of civil war. However, there is an even greater threat to the Eastern part of the country. Mt. Nyiragongo, near the Rwandan border, is one of the world’s most active volcanos yet it is also one of the least studied. There have been two eruptions in the past four decades. The first, in 1977, killed several hundred in the nearby city of Goma. The second, in 2002, displaced 350,000 and destroyed 14,000 homes. Both these eruptions were minor though and resulted from fissures on the side of the volcano. Scientists are convinced that Nyiragongo is due a major eruption. If this turned out to be the case then few of the 1 million population of Goma would survive. However, many of the city’s inhabitants have moved there to escape decades of civil war in the country and have no other place to go. This was clearly demonstrated following the last eruptions when inhabitants built homes on top of the cooled lava despite warnings that any subsequent lava flows would follow roughly the same path. Estate agents, ever ready to jump on a deal, sold small lots of cooled rock for as much as $1,500. Lave is not the only threat. The nearby lake Kivu holds trillions of cubic feet of dissolved methane gas and carbon dioxide. Any major eruption from Nyiragongo would evaporate the lake’s waters and send up a deadly cloud of gas that would leave few alive in its path. Tsunamis on the lake are also possible. All these problems are imminent, according to Italian volcanologist Dario Tedesco. “Goma,” he says, “is the most dangerous city in the world.”
www.nzherald.co.nz 23rd February 2011
The beleaguered city of Christchurch on the East coast of South Island, New Zealand, has been hit by a second deadly earthquake in less than 6 months as a tremor measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale hit earlier today (1251 local time). According to Prime Minister John Key, 65 people have died so far with hundreds more trapped beneath fallen buildings. Although smaller than the 4th September earthquake last year, which measured 7.3, today’s shock was far shallower with an epicentre only 10km away from the New Zealand coast. Fortunately, there were no fatalities with the bigger earthquake. However, the current death toll today, which is likely to rise significantly, is already the second highest in New Zealand’s history. It is only surpassed by the huge earthquake (7.9) of 1931 in Hawke’s Bay that killed 256. The 70th anniversary of that sad day was marked only a few weeks ago.
www.nytimes.com 8th February 2011
The latest severe drought to befall the world has hit China resulting in a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) alert warning of wheat shortages from the region. The drought is the worst for 60 years in the country, which is the largest wheat producer in the world. For Shandong province, one of the main provinces for wheat growing, the drought could be the worst in 200 years, unless substantial rain falls by the end of the month. The reduced crop yield could have wider implications for global wheat prices, which are already seen as being behind the popular protests in Madagascar, Tunisia and Egypt. The widespread droughts and wildfires in Russia last Summer, as well as the recent severe floods in Australia, have brought international attention to the wheat market as the two countries are also large exporters. However, China has previously been self-sufficient in wheat. The current droughts, which are affecting 5.16 million hectares of China’s 14 million hectares of wheat fields, will force the Chinese government to buy from abroad forcing up the cereal’s prices even further.
www.telegraph.co.uk 4th February 2011
The Amazonian rainforest has been struck by two severe floods in the past six years causing a large number of trees to die. The first hit in 2005 and was described as a 1 in a 100 year event. However, new research of 5.3 million square kilometres of forest by a team led by Dr Simon Lewis from the University of Leeds has discovered that another drought last year may have been even worse. The first drought alone was responsible for releasing 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to rotting vegetation and the forest’s reduced capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (the Amazon usually absorbs about 1.5 billion tonnes annually). The second brought the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon to its lowest recorded level. If these droughts continue the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, believe that the Amazon forest could go from being carbon absorber to a carbon emitter.
www.guardian.co.uk 28th January 2011
Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Channel 4 documentary on the problems of current fishing practices has been a fantastic success. 600,000 have signed his petition to make fishing practices more sustainable and big retailers have reported large increases in sales of sustainably sourced fish. However, concerns have been voiced on the solutions put forward in the program. By simply diversifying the type of fish we eat, we are not necessarily reducing the impact on heavily fished species such as cod and plaice. In fact, since the program aired this month (it can be seen here on Channel 4 OD), British supermarkets Waitrose and Marks and Spencer announced an increase in fish sales of 15% and 25%. The UK already consumes far more fish than its fish stocks are able to support and the country’s fishing industry relies on imported species for 5 months of the year. By simply asking people to eat a wider variety of fish, Hugh and his team, despite the great work they have done, have not tackled the heart of the problem: we need to eat less fish. The population of the UK consume, on average 20kg of fish every year. That is half of the Spanish average and a third of the Portuguese, but still much more than the global average. With three-quarters of the EU’s fish stocks overexploited, encouraging more people to eat fish, whatever the species, is unlikely to help the problem with overfishing.
www.guardian.co.uk 24th January 2011
In an effort to tackle the country’s growing problems with water supply, the Chinese government has invested over a £1 billion in creating a giant desalinisation plant on reclaimed land bordering the Bohai Sea. It is said to be the biggest and most advanced facility of its type in the whole of Asia and aims to produce 400MW of coal-fired electricity as well as 200,000 cubic metres of salt-free potable water. To combat many of the detrimental environmental side-effects usually associated with these plants, the Chinese government promises to package the removed salt and sell it rather than pumping back into the sea. The facility will also use the by-product from the process, steam, to generate yet more power. The plant joins a host of other projects the Chinese government are pushing forward in an attempt to become more sustainable. Just a ten-minute drive away lies the site of an ‘eco-city’ the size of Bristol, which aims to be fully populated within ten years. These projects are evidence of China’s belief that it can tackle its environmental problems with science, technology, and a lot of money. So far though, the new desalinisation plant has never run on more than a quarter capacity since it opened in April. It has also yet to secure any supply deals with local utility companies.
www.guardian.co.uk 3rd January 2011
The most comprehensive study to have ever been carried out on bee populations in the USA has come to a finish, and with startling results. The research team from the University of Illinois found that the ‘the abundance of four common species of bumblebees in the US has dropped by 96% in just the past few decades’. The reduced size of the bee populations means inbreeding and disease are likely to effect the remaining insects. Bees are essential for the pollination of 90% of the world’s commercial plants including coffee, soya beans, and cotton. Bumblebees are important in the US particularly for the pollination of tomato and berry plants ‘thanks to their large body size, long tongues, and high-frequency buzzing, which helps release pollen from flowers’. No single reason has been attributed to the bee decline although new diseases, changing habitats, and the increased use of fertilisers have all been cited.
www.nationalgeographic.com 6th December 2010
‘A lone house stands out against a dry riverbed in Cadajas on October 25. A prolonged drought may harm Brazil’s crops. For instance, farmers in the Amazon’s fertile Matto Grosso state are highly dependent on Amazon rain to grow their crops, which are extremely profitable because normally so little irrigation is needed.’
‘Hard-hit by a months-long drought, a waterway within the Amazon Basin trickles to a halt in Manaus, Brazil on November 19. The Negro River, a major tributary of the Amazon River, dropped to a depth of about 46 feet (14 meters)—the lowest point since record-keeping began in 1902.’
‘A fisher reportedly discovered prehistoric etchings when water receded from the banks of the Negro River, according to the Hindu newspaper. Archaeologists suggest the 7,000-year-old engravings—which feature images of faces and snakes—may be more evidence that the Amazon was once home to large civilizations.’
‘A boat rests amid debris in Manaus on September 15. The drought has also sparked a surge in wildfires, particularly in the state of Mato Grosso—which means “thick forest,” according to Reuters. There have been 36,700 forest fires in Mato Grasso so far this year, compared with 8,135 in 2009, Reuters reported. The blazes have destroyed cattle pastures, killed livestock, and burned down some of the region’s remaining original forest.’
e360.yale.edu 6th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Accelerated wildfires across wide swaths of the Alaskan interior caused by rising temperatures have released more carbon into the atmosphere over the last decade than was stored in the tundra and boreal forests, according to a new study. Over the last 10 years, the area burned by wildfires in interior Alaska has doubled to 18.5 million hectares — 71,000 square miles — largely because of an increased number of late-summer fires, which consume plant litter, moss, and organic matter in the soil that have accumulated over thousands of years, researchers say. It’s a trend that could portend “a runaway climate change scenario,” in which warming temperatures cause increasingly intense fires that release more and more carbon into the atmosphere, said Merritt Turetsky, a professor at the University of Guelph in Canada and lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Researchers say the study supports a growing body of evidence that northern ecosystems are bearing the brunt of climate change, and that warming temperatures are turning these carbon sinks into large-scale sources of carbon.’
www.bbc.co.uk 6th December 2010
The heaviest rainfall in four decades has caused a huge landslide in the Colombian Andes, possibly killing as many as 50 people in the city of Medellin. Although only one body has been recovered from the rubble so far by rescue teams with sniffer dogs, more than 50 homes were buried in the La Gabriela district of Bello, north of Medellin. One Red Cross worker has claimed that as many as 200 are missing. Seven have been rescued alive. The confirmed dead bring the total amount of lost life due to landslides this year to 176 in Colombia alone, according to the Red Cross. Many more have had to leave their homes. In response to the devastation, the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said: “this tragedy we are experiencing, not only in the Atlantic coast but across the country, has no precedent in our history. We estimate that there will be more than two million people affected”. In the adjacent country of Venezuela, 70,000 have been displaced by similar flooding. The President Hugo Chavez has stated that he will seize private land to shelter those who have lost their homes. The extreme weather has been caused by the La Nina climatic phenomenon.
www.latimes.com 27th November 2010
There are some pretty odd names for tropical storms floating around out there. In the 2010 hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida named 19 storms with names such as Fiona, Guston, Hermine, and Shary. The bizarre selection is not random, as is commonly supposed, but is actually pulled together by specialists in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. ‘The agency is divided into six regions,’ writes the LATimes. ‘Representatives from each suggest names to an international committee, which votes on them. The chosen names are placed on six lists, which are rotated year to year.’ Up until 1950, hurricanes weren’t named at all and were instead identified by the date and where they made landfall (e.g.: the ‘Galveston Hurricane of 1900′). This changed in 1953 when the NHC started giving storms female names. The WMO took over in 1977 and males names were introduced in 1979. Most names used are English or Hispanic but there are a selection of French and Russian in there too. For respect, any storms that have caused grievous loss of life, such as Katrina, are removed from the list.
www.guardian.co.uk 18th November 2010
Last year’s devastating floods in Cumbria, particularly in the towns of Cockermouth, Keswick, Warrington, has instigated local government to rethink its approach to flood prevention. With the government reducing the budget for flood defence and coastal erosion prevention by £260 million, as well as decentralising flood management, local planning bodies, together with the Environment Agency are mulling over the idea of restoring the meanders, flood meadows and plantations of the Lake District’s natural landscape. It is hoped that the restoration will ‘slow-down’ heavy rainfall from the Pennine chain and Cumbrian fells. The most drastic change in the landscape came in the 1960s when a series of open channels were cut into absorbent peat moors to improve ‘sterile’ land. They are now considered to reduce the natural sponge effect of the terrain. As such they aided last year’s flood which saw over five miles of the Windermere River rise above eight feet, destroying local homes, hotels, and boat-houses.
www.chinadaily.com.cn 8th November 2010
The Chinese government, together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has held a global competition for the chance to train as a ‘Pambassador’ Southwest China’s Sichuan province. 60,000 people applied worldwide with 12 finalists being picked to air an online video of themselves, which was then voted for by the general public. The six victors of the competition were an international bunch, coming from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan, the USA, France and Sweden. Their tasks now include tracking pandas through the dense southern Chinese forests, caring for pandas in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and raising awareness for the panda’s plight. Although nobody knows how many Giant Pandas there are left in the wild, official Chinese statistics put their number around 1,600 worldwide (down from 2,500 in the 1970s). Those left are distributed across the Chinese provinces of Sichuan (1,200 pandas), Shaanxi (300) and Gansu (100). A logging ban in 1998 has helped prevent the decline of the panda’s habitats but the construction of large scale infrastructure and an enormous earthquake in 2008 has damaged around 83% of the pandas’ habitat and also destroyed protection meassures. It is hoped that the premier of the new film ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ will be shown in the area to raise awareness for the panda’s peril.
www.independent.co.uk 14th November 2010
Under plans drawn up by Richard Benyon, the Water Minister, people in the UK living near the sea or rivers will be hit by a controversial flood tax so that the government can fill a £260 million hole in flood defence spending. In return for the tax, which would be on top of higher insurance premiums already imposed on people susceptible to flooding, local communities would have more of a say in where the defences are erected. A consultation for the plan will go ahead this week despite coinciding with the anniversary of the Cumbria floods last year which displaced hundreds of people. The recent budget cuts undertaken by the coalition government saw the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which oversees flood defence, have its funding cut by 27%, the second largest reduction after the treasury. This involved the total budget for coastal erosion and flooding dropping by £260 million to £2.1 billion.
e360.yale.edu 12th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Nearly 40 percent of businesses globally have already experienced “detrimental” effects related to water security, including disruptions caused by drought and other shortages, flooding, poor quality, and increased prices, according to a new report. In a survey of companies from 25 nations, more than half responded that risks to their business are “current or near term,” an indication that the strain on global waters supplies is already being felt worldwide. The survey was commissioned by the UK nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project, which produces annual reports on corporate responses to carbon emissions for investors. According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents are already addressing water security at the board or executive committee level; 89 percent have developed water policies; and 60 percent have established water-related performance targets. The sectors reporting the highest water security risk include food, beverage, tobacco, metals, and mining. Chemical, technology, and communications companies are least exposed to risk.’
www.msnbc.com 5th November 2010
Even as the first tendrils of Tropical Storm Thomas touch the shores of Haiti, the local population have defied evacuation orders to stay in their homes. Many of them are still living out of shelters constructed after a devastating earthquake hit the island in January this year. The civil protection department of Haiti issued the evacuation of the 1.3 million residents in the path of the storm and even provided buses to transport people to friends and family further away. However, 4 buses at one camp called Canape-Vert only managed to carry away 5 people. On Thursday Thomas had amassed winds of 65mph (or 100kph) and the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami has warned that it could gain hurricane strength by the time it fully hits Haiti. If this is the case then it is unlikely that the cheap tarpaulin shelters used by many in the post-quake camps will survive. So far the government has declined to make a list of suitable sturdier shelters, such as schools and hospitals, public as it fears that these places will be ‘invaded’. Slightly further away, the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba were also bracing themselves for the storm by ensuring the camp had enough supplies in case of disrupted communications and transport capabilities.
www.guardian.co.uk 24th October 2010
In further attempts to cut the nation’s deficit, the government is due to announce the sale of more than 150,000 hectares of forest owned by the state to private organisations or individuals over the next three years. The move will be the UK’s greatest change of land ownership since the second world war. Environmentalists and opposition parties have warned of an environmental disaster though unless stringent protective measures are put in place. The sale of the land would raise around £250million for the government at present day prices but many people are concerned that it will be bought up by industrial companies with little concern for the environment. “This would enable industrial landowners to…aggressively control the market”, said Mike Seville, forestry and woodland advisor for the Country Landowners’ Association. Attempts to privatise the Forestry Commission occurred under both Thatcher and Major in the 1980s and 90s but failed due to intense pressure from conservationist groups and lack of industry interest. With higher land values today though, this may change.
‘A government economic study released earlier this year calculated that (woodland) provides £2,100 in value per hectare per year in benefits such as erosion protection, pollution absorption, carbon sequestration, health provision are included.’