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News Archive » 2012

Here you will find all articles that have been published in the weekly Science for Environment Policy News Alert.

Browse archives by year and month below.

Deep sea filming reveals thriving fish communities among Irish coral reefs

The importance of coral reefs in supporting diverse fish communities has been highlighted in a recent study. However, the effects of damaging fishing techniques were also observed in video footage of the reefs studied, located off the coast of Ireland.

Coastal structure repairs can significantly disturb marine ecosystems

Renovating coastal structures, such as breakwaters, groynes, artificial reefs, quays and sea walls, can be destructive to marine ecosystems as it encourages opportunistic and invasive species, according to recent research. Repairs can be particularly damaging if conducted in spring or summer, so repair schedules should be recognised in marine planning strategies to minimise negative ecological effects, say the researchers.

Progress in education for Sustainable Development

A new report commissioned by UNESCO has reviewed several case studies of national progress in learning and education for sustainable development (ESD). There are a wide range of approaches but, at the heart of all initiatives, are multi-stakeholder and collaborative partnerships which aim to instigate social change towards a more sustainable future.

Economic value of green infrastructure estimated by new method

A new study has proposed a method to place monetary value on green infrastructure at both a project and regional scale, which illustrates the value of investing in green infrastructure to the public and other stakeholders.

Scientists call for swifter protection against forest diseases

According to a new analysis by Swedish researchers, action to reduce the impact of several serious forest diseases is typically taken too late. The researchers call for better communication by biologists of how and why diseases spread, to help minimise economic and ecological losses.

Coral and mollusc responses to acidified oceans

Coral and mollusc species with an outer layer of protective tissue are more able to withstand acidic seawater than some other species, according to a recent study. However, higher temperatures projected under climate change are likely to worsen the impact of ocean acidification on coral and molluscs, even affecting those that are otherwise resistant to higher levels of acidity.

An end to fast fashion? Consumer-focused, sustainable alternatives

Rapidly changing fashions increase the production and consumption of textiles and clothing. According to Finnish researchers, more sustainable production and consumption of clothing could be achieved if consumer values are used to rethink design and business strategies. For example, increased personalisation of clothing could increase consumer attachment to products.

Successful conservation policy needs monitoring and knowledge

New research has explored how well different governance systems can achieve desirable conservation outcomes. Results confirmed the importance of adaptive management, which relies on regular monitoring to enable 'learning through doing' to refine actions, and suggested that leadership using expert knowledge was also significant in successful governance.

Economic benefits drive industrial ecology

New research suggests that the main driver for industrial ecology initiatives is financial gain, whilst regulation plays a smaller role. Policy does influence their development but this tends to be indirectly through initiatives such as pollution control and waste reduction targets, rather than through direct regulation to enforce or encourage industrial ecology.

Benefits of a European-North African renewable energy supergrid

Connecting Europe and North Africa with a single, long-distance electricity 'supergrid' is technically possible and the cheapest option available to meet Europe's renewable energy targets, according to new research. However, significant political challenges, such as minimising the perception of risk and attracting sufficient investment, need to be overcome.

Protect biodiversity to safeguard ecosystem services

Most species in an ecosystem could help supply essential ecosystem services, according to a recent study. The researchers found that 84% of species in the grassland ecosystems they studied contributed towards at least one ecosystem service. Losing any of these species would therefore degrade the ecosystem services such an environment could provide.

Carbon footprint of food adds up along the food chain

A recent study from Finland on the carbon footprint of food can help producers and consumers make choices that lower the food chain's impact on climate change, by highlighting hotspots in the food chain for improvement and revealing food's overall impact.

L'Aquila earthquake of 2009 offers lessons in disaster response

By analysing previous disasters, lessons learnt can be incorporated into policies and plans to manage the effects of future disasters. A recent study examining the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake in Italy suggests that although the national response effectively dealt with the emergency, longer-term measures to help local populations cope with the aftermath of the disaster need to be set out more clearly.

Soil POP concentrations in decline

Overall concentrations of some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in soil have declined, according to research conducted in Norway and the UK. The researchers suggest that there has been a reduced influence of primary sources of some POPs on soils for these two countries in recent years.

Distillery sludge used to treat radioactive sites

Mining uranium ore leaves sites contaminated with toxic, radioactive material. According to a new study, contaminated sites can be treated with sludge from the treatment of distillery wastewater in bioreactors. The study demonstrates an efficient method for decontamination of groundwater based on bacteria in sludge that naturally convert uranium into an insoluble form that can be more easily removed.

What effect will the Water Framework Directive have on local planners?

For successful implementation of the Water Framework Directive, local planners will need specific targets, guidance on interpretation, and adequate resources to monitor progress, according to a recent study from Sweden.

Climate and land use change to affect malaria spread in tropical Africa

A recent study has projected changes in the spread of malaria caused by climate change and climate variability in Africa by including the effect of variations in land use on local climate. It concludes that the risk of malaria epidemics is likely to shift from the north to the south of the Sahel, and to highland areas previously free of the disease.