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Sharkwater: The Explosive Documentary Film on the Costa Rica Shark Fin Trade

Rob Stewart tells the amazing story of the making of the documentary firm Sharkwater.  Rob uncovers the connection between the illegal shark fin trade, the mafia and the Costa Rican government.  Hear the story of how they were chased down by guns boats during the making of the film by the Costa Rican government.  Get the inside scoop of the story behind this remarkable film directly from the Director/Producers mouth.

Also Visit the Sharkwater Website
More  Information Here About Declining Shark Populations in Costa Rica

Filed under: Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Carbon Sequestration and Storage in Soils Could Solve Global Warming

Soils contain more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere according to estimates (Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, FAO). Increasing the amount of carbon naturally stored in soils could provide the short-term bridge to reduce the impacts of increasing carbon emissions until low-carbon and sustainable technologies can be implemented. A group called Soil Carbon, based in Australia, makes the case for soil carbon storage in a presentation available in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Mexican and Portuguese. The Soil Carbon report includes impressive photographs, such as those above, demonstrating the difference between well-managed and poorly managed soils.

The Soil Carbon report makes a good read in a powerpoint format rich in pictures, and is an easy introduction to a complex topic for the interested layman. The more scientifically oriented, and truly committed, will want to review the FAO report, Carbon Sequestration in Dryland Soils which goes much more in depth in the science and facts behind soil carbon.

The FAO report sheds some doubt on the optimism in the figures presented by Soil Carbon. For example, Soil Carbon calculates the potential for CO2 sequestration in soil by starting from the assumption that soil organic matter can be increased 1% of the total weight of the soils to a depth of 1 meter. By this calculation, Soil Carbon claims a potential increase of 47 tons of carbon per hectare. As reasonable as a simple “1 % increase” may sound, it appears not to be scientifically valid.

Carbon Sequestration

According to the FAO (FAO report, page 28): the carbon content of dryland soils is estimated to be 4 tons/hectare. Carbon content ranges between 7 tons and 24 tons in normal (non-depleted) soils, depending on the climate zone and vegetation. Studies show that non-degraded savannahs can have up to 18 tons C/hectare (top 20 cm). Based on this, one can conclude that an increased carbon sequestration of 18 – 4 = 14 tons/hectare is the most optimistic potential achievement, well under the 47 tons/hectare that Soil Carbon suggests is achievable. Nonetheless, the FAO report point out that increasing the carbon content by only 1.5 tons/hectare on 2 billion hectares of degraded lands could balance out predicted increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere due to annual emissions increases. (FAO report, page 6) This would buy time while fossil-fuel free technologies are developed.

Soil Carbon also targets exclusively the use of ruminant grazing as a soil restoration method. This is only one of many methods, which must be used in combinations depending on the local conditions. As much as the beef lovers amongst us may cheer the finding that cattle are an essential part of a healthy farming eco-system, the FAO points out that there is a large amount of disagreement about the value of ruminants in soil carbon cycling. That manure is the most efficient manner to incorporate carbon into soils is undebated. But some studies point out that feed must be grown on adjoining land, thereby depleting it, so the carbon added to one piece of land is in effect merely displaced from other land, rather than a net positive addition. The question of methane production, a 23-times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, must also be considered. Somehow humorous in the multi-faceted evaluations required to make good decisions is the statement in the FAO report that when conducting carbon audits: “it is essential to remember that the purpose of agriculture is to feed people.”

The most interesting facet of the FAO report for the non-scientist may be the discussions of using funding available from carbon offsetting to implement soil restoration projects and help farmers apply methods which benefit soil carbon levels. The additional income from carbon offsetting would help alleviate poverty, and the more productive farming possible after restoration of soils could break farmers out of the cycle of land depletion for mere survival. Although the development of accurate models to measure carbon offsets and the implementation of measures to reduce the risk of reversal of the gains present obstacles, the prospect of carbon sequestration in soils is a win-win for developed and developing nations.

Filed under: Carbon Offsets, Climate Change, Sustainable Living, , , , , , , , ,

Saving Mono Titi Conservation Project Top Donors

Eco preservation Society would like to thank our top donors:

Charles Turner $23,000
Eco Interactive Vacations $10,000
Boyero Tours $500
Firetown $500
David Abernathy $200
Search Feature $100
Judy Orr $100
Jennifer Karlen $100
Milan Cole $100
Lisa Gray $100
Wayne Long $100
William Myers $100.00
Suzie Norvich $35
Robert Kennedy $35.00
Michael Higdon  $35.00

To Help Save Mono Titi – CLICK HERE


Related Stories:
More about the Saving Mono Titi documentary
A history of African Palm Production
Ten Reasons not to feed the monkeys.
Costa Rican company leads Resource Revolution

Other Resurces:
Saving Mono Titi Web Site
Eco Preservation Society

Kids Saving the Rainforest
ASCOMOTI

Filed under: Family Eco Travel, Reforestation, Sustainable Living, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , ,

National Geographic Human Footprint – Fruit Consumption

National Geographic Human FootprintNational Geographic Human Footprint takes a look at the amount of fruit the average person will consume in a lifetime.

Part Three – Meat Consumption
Part Four – Eggs for a Lifetime
Part Five – Bread
Part Six- Fruit Consumption
Part Seven – Soda Consumption

Part Eight – Showers
Part Nine – Hygiene and Cosmetics

Filed under: Sustainable Development, , , , , , , , ,

Carbon Footprint Calculators Don’t Make Sense

We are baffled.

The carbon footprint calculators make no sense to us when it comes to the calculations for Jet travel.

Lets run some numbers.

A Boeing 737 burns 800 gallons of fuel per hour

A gallon of jet fuel weighs just less than 7 pounds

In a five-hour flight that is 4000 gallons of fuel weighing 28,000 pounds

Or 14 tons of jet fuel

The 737 will carry up to 162 passengers. Lets assume 80% capacity or 130 in a typical flight

Here is what does not make sense to us:

That works out to 0.107 tons of fuel per person (about 200 pounds of fuel per person)

Yet according to their Carbon Calculators that same 5-hour flight produces the following TONS of carbon per person:

ZeroFootPrint.com 2.71 Tons p/ person (24 times the weight of the fuel)

CarbonFootPrint.com .496 Tons p/person (2.5 times the weight of the fuel)

Green.yahoo.com 2.0 Tons p/person (20 times the weight of the fuel)

How can this possibly be? Certainly the vast majority of the fuel is converted to energy. How is it possible that the jet fuel produces many more times as much carbon as the weight of the fuel itself? Never mind the question as to why all of these calculators give us such wildly different calculations. Something is wrong here or are we missing something?

Filed under: Carbon Offsets, Climate Change, Family Eco Travel, , , , , , , ,

Costa Rica’s Mysterious Mangroves – A Treasured and Exotic Habitat

by Richard Garrigues

In the nebulous zone between high and low tide, where freshwater meets saltwater and the ground is neither liquid nor solid, grow the mangroves.

Inhabitants of inter-tidal zones throughout the tropics and subtropics, mangroves are a most curious collection of plants. It is easy to make the erroneous assumption that the different kinds of mangrove trees are closely related species adapted to the unique conditions in which they grow. Even their English common names (red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, buttonwood mangrove, etc.) lend to the idea that these are merely different species of the same plant family, as if they were maples or oaks.

In reality, the mangroves are a wonderful example of convergent evolution—a situation in which totally unrelated organisms have evolved certain similarities simply because those are the characteristics best suited for making use of a particular resource. And in this case the resource is a place where a plant might grow if it can overcome the two major difficulties faced by mangroves: the salinity of the sea water which saturates the ground they grow in and the absence of oxygen in that same saturated mud.

In Costa Rica there are seven species of mangrove trees from four very different plant families: the red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle and R. harrisonii, Rhizophoraceae), the black mangroves (Avicennia germinans and A. bicolor, Verbenaceae), the tea mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae, Theaceae), the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa, Combretaceae), and the buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus, Combretaceae). In Costa Rica, any and all of these plants are called mangle (man-gley) and the association in which they grow a manglar.

Of the mangroves found in Costa Rica, the red mangrove is the most easily recognized with its striking aerial prop roots, which often branch one or more times before reaching the ground. The primary function of these roots is not to support the tree but to aid in the aeration of the plant’s sap system.

The black mangrove, and to some extent the white mangrove, cope with the lack of air in the mucky substrate by developing vertical extensions from their roots which stick above the soil level and (at low tide) accomplish oxygen exchange. The tea mangrove has pronounced buttresses which act as aerators. The buttonwood mangrove effectively avoids this problem by growing on the back edges or higher ground within a mangrove swamp, thus reducing the likelihood of having the soil around its roots supersaturated except at extreme high tides.

Mangroves have developed various ways to deal with the problem of high salt concentrations in the water around them. Some species secrete salt from their roots and/or leaves. Pacific coast black mangroves can be observed in the dry season with salt crystals along the outer edges of their leaves (secretion of salt through the leaves happens throughout the year, but is not usually observed in the rainy season because the rain washes off the salt).

In some mangroves, such as the red mangrove, salt is stored in the older leaves which soon fall off the tree. And in other species, it appears that salt is simply tolerated in much higher levels than is common in most plants.

As a result of the rather severe conditions where mangroves grow, there is not much plant diversity. Correspondingly, the animal life associated with mangroves is not nearly as diverse as it is in other lowland habitats in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, what mangrove swamps may lack in numbers of species they make up for with numbers of individuals.

At certain times of the year the tops of mangrove trees are filled with nesting birds. In the Tempisque River, the Isla de Pájaros, or Bird Island, is an impressive example of this phenomenon. Each year hundreds of Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Anhingas, and Neotropical Cormorants reproduce on this protected patch of mid-river mangroves.

In the mangrove of Damas Island you will find White Faced Monkey which many a visitor will have a close encounter. But please, do not feed the monkeys.

Part of the reason for the concentration of nesting and roosting birds in the mangroves could be that it serves as a sanctuary from terrestrial and climbing predators. The bases of the trees are under water almost nearly of the time and even when they are exposed by receding tides, the soft mud that surrounds them is a deterrent to many creatures.

Below the water’s surface in areas where mangroves grow one can find a high diversity of life forms. Among the mangrove’s root systems many marine organisms live or spend a portion of their lives. Such creatures include algae, corals, barnacles, sponges, oysters, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, octopi, and fishes. The importance of mangroves to the health of the marine ecosystem is immeasurable.

Unfortunately, in Costa Rica and the rest of the world, mangrove forests are being destroyed and their sites converted to fish pens, rice paddies, salt-drying ponds, cattle pasture, tourist developments and human settlements. Mangrove wood makes good fuel and excellent charcoal, but over-harvesting has contributed to their demise. Additionally, the red mangrove is an important source of tannin (used in processing leather), but the stripping of the bark to get the tannin kills the individual trees.

All mangroves in Costa Rica are protected by law, but there is not always someone around to enforce the law. Nevertheless, there are still large areas of mangroves lining estuaries and mouths of rivers and streams along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Mangrove development is not as common on the Caribbean coast, because there is little variation in the height of the tides, but one area where some very tall red mangroves can be seen is along the extensive canal system between Limón and Tortuguero.

Filed under: Family Eco Travel, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Costa Rica Plants Five Million Trees

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) – Costa Rica, a leader in eco-tourism and home to some of the world’s rarest species, planted its 5 millionth tree of 2007 on Wednesday, December 19 as it tries to put a brake on global warming.

President Oscar Arias shoveled dirt onto the roots of an oak tree planted in the grounds of his offices, reaching the milestone in the Central American nation’s efforts to ward off what some experts say are the first signs of climate change.

By the end of the year, Costa Rica will have planted nearly 6.5 million trees, which should absorb 111,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, Environment Minister Roberto Dobles said.

The country aims to plant 7 million trees in 2008 as part of the newly launched program.

Along with other green-minded nations like Norway and New Zealand, Costa Rica is aiming to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero, and has set a target date of 2021.

“I don’t know if we will end up being carbon neutral in 2021 as we have proposed, but the important thing is the audacity of the goal and the work we have to do,” Arias said.

Costa Rica is a magnet for ecology-minded tourists who come to visit the lush national parks and reserves that cover more than a quarter of the country and are home to almost 5 percent of the world’s plant and animal species including exotic birds and frogs.

Over the last 20 years forest cover in Costa Rica has grown from 26 percent of the national territory to 51 percent, though environmentalists complain that loggers continue to cut down old trees and that the national park system is under funded.

Costa Rican authorities have blamed the loss of more than a dozen amphibian species, including the shiny yellow “golden toad,” on higher temperatures caused by global warming.

Experts also say climate change is behind a spike in mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever at high elevations where they were once rare.

The number of dengue fever cases so far this year in Costa Rica’s high-altitude central valley stands at 3,487 — 86 percent higher than in the whole of 2006.

(Reporting by John McPhaul, editing by Eric Walsh)

 

Filed under: Carbon Offsets, Reforestation, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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