Tags / Sustainability
Marine ecologist Rebecca Morris installing new seawall pots along the Sydney Harbour at the Royal Botanic Gardens. 2nd February 2016.
To celebrate the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020, an environmentalist and a photojournalist visited 10 countries in 300 days in order to discover the most innovative solutions implemented by the peoples of the world to preserve the biodiversity of our planet. A fabulous educational journey through the Amazon, the Arabian desert, the Andes, the Pacific Ocean and more!
TEXTLESS, NATURAL SOUND VERSION / CONFORMED DIALOGUES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.
The Coral Triangle is one of the world’s most important natural resources. It is an area of ocean that covers 5.4 million km2, where more biodiversity can be found than anywhere else on Earth.
The 3,000+ species of fish, and vast coral reefs, provide livelihoods and food for an estimated 130 million people in the region. Millions more throughout the world also benefit from the bounty of natural resources, provided by the Coral Triangle.
But all is not well in paradise. Scientists, environmentalists, economists and governments, are increasingly worried for the future of this ecosystem. In the last forty years alone, the Coral Triangle has incurred substantial losses of 40% to its reefs and mangroves.
Projections suggest this rate of degradation is likely to continue, or increase into the future. With such significant numbers of people reliant on this natural resource, there is a potential catastrophe of global proportions waiting to happen.
"Reverse mobility", says Kasimis Charalambos, specialist of the Greek rural world, when asked about the current movement of "return to the land" that turns thousands of Greek city-dwellers into farmers or olive producers. Since the end of the civil war in 1949, the Greek rural world experienced an exodus and Athens, a once 200.000 inhabitant's city, now gathers almost half of the 11,23 million's national population. "A tool of resilience against the crisis", adds Karina Benessaiah, who writes a Phd on the issue. Indeed, since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, more than 600 000 jobs were destroyed in the country, mainly in Athens, where unemployment, combined with increased taxes and raising daily costs, turned life into a never-ending nightmare. Suicide rate have dangerously increased and the Neo-nazi party Golden Dawn, whose members are whether in jail or in trial, is the third party of the capital, since the municipal elections that were held in May. "I want to leave the city to be free and human again", endeavors Giorgia, unemployed for 2 years, from a piece of land located in Nea Makri and owned by the collective Nea Guinea, which provides trainings to city-dwellers eager to live a sustainable and self-managed life. "This field, at a one-hour-distance from Athens, is a bridge between Athenians and the rural world, a laboratory to succeed in the hard process of going back to working and living of the land", explains Fotini, founder of Nea Guinea, who will move in Nea Makri for good in September. For Dimitris and Penelope, Athens is already an old souvenir. They swapped their urban lifestyle in the beginning of the crisis for the tough adventure of the rural world in Pelion, at five-hours-distance from Athens. In spite of many sacrifices and efforts, they are happy to live among olives, apple trees, homeopathic plants and wild pigs. For them, more than an economic opportunity, returning to the land was also a way to live a more sustainable life and to take their distance with the Greek political system that they find illegitimate. Agriculture may be a tool of resilience, but it will not be enough to solve the economic crisis, in a country where more than half of the youth is unemployed.
Despite Germany’s reputation as an environmentally conscious nation, the country has been quietly ramping up its production of brown coal in recent years. As mining companies buy up land and dig vast open-pit mines, natural areas are being desecrated and inhabitants of nearby villages are being forced from their homes. Now, residents in nine villages in the eastern state of Brandenburg fear for the future of their homes, as the very land their houses are built on is being bought-up by Swedish mining company Vattenfall.
Brown coal is considered by many to be the black gold of the 21st century. After oil, coal is the world’s most important energy source, which makes mining it a highly lucrative business. Germany is the biggest brown coal producer in world, far ahead of China and the United States. In 2013, they produced over 162 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from brown coal. Currently, Germany’s coal production is at a 25-year high and shows no sign of slowing down. Some coal industry experts are even calling the recent surge in production a “brown coal renaissance”.
Forests are the heart of Long La's development. In a country ravaged by deforestation, this village of 500 inhabitants has become a model of sustainable development. With the help of Speri, a vietnamese NGO, Long La has found a way to preserve its forest thanks to agroecology.
The forest is rich in medicinal plants and rare species and generates wealth for the community. Prior to 2004, it was threatened by timber exploitation. But its inhabitants soon realized that the water shortages they were facing were not normal and that the air was drier than it should have been in this tropical region.
It did not take long before they began to blame deforestation, which also adversely affects agricultural production. Today, forests cover 40% of the territory of Laos, whereas they made up 70% in the 1950s. In order to protect their forest, villagers in Long La reserved certain areas for the production of timber and others for medicinal plants. In some areas, it is now strictly forbidden to gather wood. They also enacted strict rules to preserve the forest, such as keeping farm animals in paddocks to prevent them from damaging trees.
In 2005, the Laotian government recognized Long La inhabitants' know-how and put them in charge of managing the village's forest. Doing so came naturally to the inhabitants since they all belong to the Hmong community, an animist ethnic group that considers the forest sacred. In Long La, the forest is even believed to host a venerated spirit: the Patongxenh.
Deforestation is being driven by corruption as well as poorly managed industrial-scale plantations for things like rubber. Yet Long La's management of the forest has proven that preservation can lead to development and wealth. Thanks to the forest, the village now cultivates Zong Zwa, a plant with bright yellow flowers that tastes similar to rocca. The village also produces 12 tons of organic vegetables each year which they sell to hotels and restaurants in Luang Prabang. Speri now works with 12 other villages to implement Long La's model. In 2012, the NGO and the villagers created a rural school to train local residents in agroecology.
A small aquaponics farm produces vegetables and fish by combining hydroponics and aquaculture. The farm, which is in the desert outskirts of Cairo, uses 90% less water than conventional farming.
A worker on a small aquaponics farm passes through the barrier separating fish and vegetable production from the harsh desert outside. By harnessing efficiency in nature, the farm can use a closed water cycle to reduce waste.
With aquaponics, the water is filtered from the fish tanks to the plant roots and back. By eliminating soil, efficiency of space allows for better cultivation. Ziad Abou El Nasr and his partner plan to introduce shrimp to the water below the plant roots in order to further maximize the efficiency of the system.
While the idea of aquaponics is relatively new, a large appeal is that the cost of start up is relatively inexpensive, and materials are commonly found within the city. Given the ease of setup, proponents of the system hope there will be widespread adoption in the near future.
The initial yield of lettuce and other vegetables has been small, given the size of the farm. However, the two young farmers are already supplying two local restaurants and a small farmer's market held each Saturday in Cairo's upscale Zamalek.
A steady hum of generators filtering the water for the many fish tanks envelops a worker feeding the fish. The farm is producing Nile tilapia roughly 500 grams in weight, with plans to grow them larger in the near future.
Many of the materials used by the farm are easily found and purchased, making aquaponics a desireable, lower-cost option.
According to the farmers, the more efficient the system becomes, expansion becomes cheaper and more productive per square meter. Their goal is to produce 400 heads of lettuce per day.
Faris Farrag, the founder of the farm 'Bustan', believes that aquaponics will play an increasingly larger role in Egyptian farming as water resources become scarce.
The Sater-Maw tribe lives in the region of the mid Amazon River, on the border between Amazonas and Par states. Inventors of the "Guaran culture", the tribe domesticated this wild fruit and created its processing method, thanks to which Guaran is known and consumed all over the world.
Known as to locals as "the Children of Guaran" the Satere-Mawe indians still maintain their traditional way of planting and using guaran, for example as medicine or their ritual drink.
Pedro, 33, a Sater-Maw indian who patrols the forest: "Illegal logging can be hard to tackle. Logging happens deep in the forest, far from the eyes of the world but GPS tracking technology and satellite surveillance means we can find out where loggers are and what kind of timber they want. We are tracking 560 hectares of virgin forest with new technologies, hopefully we will stop illegal logging here."
Kennedy, 24, defends his land from illegal timber extraction. He is part of an international project with local partners. This project in the Satere-Maw area was created to support the local communities and to prevent illegal timber extraction by increasing daily surveillance, mapping forest resources and through a series of initiatives to raise awareness and environmental education. Indigenous and other local forest communities have seen their land seized, their lifestyles destroyed, and their livelihoods stolen. The US is the largest market for timber exported from Brazil. While Americans buy massive quantities of wood, often taken illegally from forests, to construct floors, outdoor paths, and piers, local people and activists working to protect the Amazon are being assassinated and kept quiet through intimidation.
The Andir river by night. The Sater-Maw live in the region of the mid Amazon River, on the border between Brazil's two biggest states Amazonas and Par.
It's a long trip to reach the Sater-Maw reserve: one hour flight from Manaus to Parintins, the closest city, then an 8 hour trip by riverboat.
Every year since 1995, residents of Guaranatuba village and some communities and volunteers from NGOs gather to celebrate the harvest of guaran fruit, known worldwide for its high energy value. During two days of celebration, locals enjoy small performances by folks artists and musical performances to mark the event.
A Maw girl listens intently to a speech about indigenous rights and the fair trade economy.
A Maw woman prepares food and a guaran drink at home. Guaran is the daily, ritual and religious beverage, and it is drunk in large quantities by adults and children alike.
The areas where the Sater-Maw live are called "stio". In this space each family unit has its residence, where a fire is lit both for cooking and for keeping the residents warm (the fire also serves to congregate the family members around it).
Guaranatuba village, located alongside of the Andira riverbank. Two young Sater-Maw are preparing a powerful sound system for a guaran harvest festival that hosts music, traditional dance and speeches about indigenous culture and politics.
A current project underway in the Sater-Maw region involves the mapping of forest resources, the construction of a small nursery to produce 5,000 seedlings per year, making plans for the correct use of natural resources, training in techniques of forestry, collection of seeds and production of seedlings, Copaiba oil and Guarana powder.
The Sater-Maw's name references two animals native in the region. The first word, Sater, means Òburning caterpillarÓ, a reference to their societyÕs most important clan, the one that traditionally appoints the succeeding political rulers. The second word, Maw, means Òintelligent and curious parrot.Ó Here, a Maw group from various Andir villages is learning something new about the guaran process.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 25% of global disease could be prevented by better management of the environment, and identifies deforestation as having a serious impact on human health.
Idecidis Da Costa, 60, is the village Tuxaua (village chief). Every village has a Tuxaua, who has the power of solving internal quarrels, summon meetings, scheduling celebrations and rituals. He also plans the agricultural activities and commercial transactions, and orders the building of houses.
A man washes his clothes in Guaranatuba. The Sater-Maw language is part of the Tupi linguistic branch. But the Maw vocabulary contains elements that are entirely different from Tupi, and cannot be related to any other linguistic family. Today most Sater-Maw are bilingual. They speak their own language and Portuguese.
Paulo is working at Posada Vinte Quilos, a small village for sustainable tourism in Guaranatuba. The project contributes to the improvement of socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural protection of traditional Middle Amazon societies through an inclusive model that integrates institution buildings, the preservation of environmental resources, and activities promoting eco-friendly and sustainable tourism.
In their "Sitios" families build their kitchen halfway between the house and the river, where the men roast guaran and the women prepare meals from manioc root. They also have their dock where the family members bathe, wash clothes, soak cassava, wash guaran and land their canoes.
Maw kids drink guaran in a poor village near Guaranatuba. Much of the guaran-based Fair Trade economy aims at battling malnutrition and its consequences for the physical and mental condition of a whole generation of children and adolescents.
The Sater-Maw of the Lower Amazon are one of the larger indigenous populations in Brazil and one of the few indigenous groups left in the immediate vicinity of the main Amazon River. Due to prolonged contact with the broader Brazilian society, the Sater-Maw have been exposed to a variety of historical changes. As a consequence of a staggering demographic growth, the immediate surroundings of their villages have been largely depleted of game and fish, causing chronic food shortages.
A man in Pira village is fixing his sanitation system. Pira is the first Maw community one encounters when traveling by boat from Parintins, the closest city.
Since 1995 a great deal of hope rests on a fair trade project, which commercializes Sater-Maw products such as guaran and several other forest products. Although well established as an indigenous enterprise on an international market, the guaran project still struggles to counter poverty in the villages on a large scale.
A Maw moves from village to village using a traditional canoe. Guaran is a plant native to the highlands of the Maus-Au River basin, which coincides precisely with the Sater-Maw's traditional territory. The Sater-Maw have transformed the "Paullinia cupana", a wild vine of the Sapindacea family, into a cultivated shrub, and mastered its planting and processing.
Conditions at the fields are tough. The brick-making generates a lot of dust, which affects everyone working at the site as well as people living nearby. Bricks are the most efficient and widely used building material and new brick buildings are erected across the country. Bandarban, Bangladesh. January 2013.
Photos and video taken at the annual European House Ambrosetti Forum at Villa D'Este, Cernobbio, Italy, over the weekend of September 7-9, 2012. The forum is an annual economic conference where heads of state, ministers, Nobel laureates and businessmen gather to discuss current and future economic challenges, scientific, technological and geo-political developments that impact business and society.
Among the attendees were Joaquim Alumnia, EU Commissioner for free-market policies, the President of Israel Shimon Perez, Romano Prodi, former Italian Prime Minister and former President of the European Commission, Giulio Tremonti and Renato Brunetta of the Italian Parliament, economics professor at Stern Business School and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics Nouriel Roubini, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Mario Monti, Italian Prime Minister, among politicians, businessmen, and economics experts worldwide.