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  • Earthling 4:32 am on February 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Interview with author of “Letters from Animals to Those Who Take Them for Fools” 

    Interview with Allain Bougrain Dubourg about his new book Lettre des animaux à ceux qui les prennent pour des bêtes (“A letter from animals to those who take them for fools”)

    Interview by the editors of Yonne Lautre in January 2018. Originally posted on Thursday, January 4 2018 by Bougrain Dubourg Allain, Leau Jean-Paul. Translated by Ulysses.

    Allain Bougrain Dubourg, you’re a journalist, producer, director, and among other things, President of the League for the Protection of Birds since 1986. So you’re very well-known for defending wild animals and biodiversity. The title of your new book “Lettre des animaux à ceux qui les prennent pour des bêtes” (“A letter from animals to those who take them for fools/beasts”) might shock our readers, however, haven’t you been taking action for unloved and/or mistreated animals for a long time?

    ABD: I was twelve years old when I got started by creating a “Young Friends of Animals Club” at the E. Fromentin school in La Rochelle. And I’ve always embraced the idea of respecting animals. Later, Brigitte Bardot raised my awareness of the issue of animal suffering. Today, I think we can’t make a distinction between preserving biodiversity and reducing aggression against animals, domestic or wild.

    In your “letters”, each animal addresses us in the first person. Does this perspective lead to a sort of lightness of discourse, or does it on the contrary give more force to real indictments?

    ABD: In my TV broadcasts, radio series, articles and books, I’ve done a lot of pleading for the interests of animals. In giving them words, I changed my method and found it to be a fascinating exercise because it forced me to evaluate the cognitive capacities of each animal. How are they experiencing things? They have pain, anguish, joy, etc. At the risk of flirting with anthropomorphism, I figured the animals needed to express themselves through me as a spokesperson.

    Doubtless you’re joined by the majority in denouncing the plastic bags that kill especially leatherback turtles, but in the tiger’s letter you attack zoos and circuses?

    ABD: You have to turn the page from another era. A caged tiger (even one raised and bottle-fed for the 10th generation) will never become a cat. When I had the chance to film them in India, I learned two things: they need a vast space (more than 50 km2), even if they have food and live alone. Yet in cages they’re forced to live in less than 10 m2 of sawdust and they’re crowded together with other felines. It’s unacceptable. Other countries have understood that it has to come to an end, and I hope France will be joining them soon!

    The rabbit asks for accommodation, a “minimum level for subsistence.” The pig demands less abuse. Couldn’t people reproach you for not going all the way, for not rejecting all exploitation and mistreatment of animals, and therefore all breeding? Where do you draw the line?

    ABD: You’ve got a good point! Maybe I should’ve called for the great change, simply abolishing all forms of exploitation, liberation for animals. I opted for a more gradual approach that can make things happen more quickly. The two aren’t incompatible!

    Your message is above all a condemnation of the mistreatment and brutal violence suffered by animals, such as greyhounds. Do you see progress being made?

    ABD: Frankly, considering the efforts that have been made by animal protection organizations for decades, the results are poor, even hopeless. But we may have stopped the situation from being even worse… Either way, now in the beginning of the 21st century, we can observe a raised awareness on the part of the public, perhaps because of the unbearable images shared by L214. People already have the power to change things through their decisions to buy or reject products. So there’s a need to improve traceability.

    You use these different letters to address all the essential issues of ecology today: agriculture, industrial breeding, pollution of soils and oceans, hunting, etc. Haven’t you forgotten the forests, which are very vulnerable today?

    ABD: Yes, forests are one of the concerns. When we look at the difficulty of implementing the hypothetical National Forest Lands in Champagne and Bougogne, we can see the power of our adversaries….

    So now you’re an activist with almost sixty years of passionate work. Besides your evident toughness and persistence, have you had any breaks, or changes of priority, as might be taken from this book?

    ABD: On the contrary, I feel I’ve been quite constant in my activity. Over three decades of TV broadcasts, I’ve always wanted to combine the discovery of life (wild or domestic) with respect for living beings. So for example, (inspired by Brigitte Bardot) the ending credits always featured an invitation to adopt an animal. What might be relatively new is the idea of sustainable development, which takes the environmental questions into account just as much as the economic and social. I’ve been engaged in this area since the Grenelle Environment.

    Allain Bougrain Dubourg, if you had the power, what decision, what change would you most want to make here and now?

    ABD: That’s a terrible question, although it’s true that we’d like to reunite man and animal in peaceful coexistence… but short of utopia, I’d invite all citizens to become eco-citizens by investing in an organization for the protection of nature and animals. In the realm of the possible, it also seems clear to me that the respect of rights needs to be a priority. We have a great legislative arsenal but we have no means of control, or even worse, we are content with tolerance…

    Today, the spectre of climate change is becoming increasingly menacing. The effects on biodiversity will be considerable. Can we really save life on Earth?

    ABD: It’s good that you’ve put questions of climate change and biodiversity on the same level because the issue of the climate (probably unintentionally) has been overshadowing biodiversity. And they don’t adequately take into account that the decline of biodiversity is also, or maybe even more, harmful than global warming. For example, can we do without pollinators? In reality everything’s tied together! There’s still time to save life on earth, but the fatal deadline is rapidly approaching. We need to take bold measures. Nature has a power to resist… but not for much longer!

     
  • Earthling 2:29 am on February 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bioremediation, boom, burning baby turtles alive, Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill, how to clean up oil spills, oil spill, oil spill clean up, Oil-water separation machine, peat moss, safe oil spill cleanup, skimmer   

    Environmentally Safe Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills 

    By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey

    There are environmentally safe ways to clean up oil spills. Today it is vitally important to not endanger coral reefs, fishing communities, sea birds, and other marine life that depend on ocean water for their survival.  Also, when oil spills reach land, the oil destroys the ecology of habitats and contaminates aquifers and groundwater.

    Although oil spills are dangerous to the environment, they are not as dangerous as the traditional methods used to clean up oil spills. Traditional methods include chemically dangerous dispersants or detergents, or bioremediation methods that are also harmful to the environment.

    According to ecological studies of the Amoco Cadiz Spill (1978), the untreated coastal areas fully recovered within five years. The treated areas, on the other hand, have not recovered in over 30 years. Oil, since it is a biological product, breaks down naturally through natural microbes in the environment.

    The Exxon Valdez Spill (1989) has still not fully been recovered from, due to a high quantity of nutrients used to speed up the degradation process of the oil contaminant, which upset the ecological balance, thus producing “severe environmental damage for decades to come.”

    Since Valdez, scientists and environmentalists have been working on environmentally safe ways to clean up oil spills:

    1) Peat moss mixtures

    A company in Norway has developed a peat moss mixture that can be used in a variety of ways to clean up oil spills. These methods include mixing gravel and stone from the area with peat moss, three-meter-long peat moss sausages, and buckets of peat moss.

    2) Improved skimmer

    An improved skimmer has been developed which features a grooved rather than smooth surface, and can collect more oil than the traditional skimmer.

    3) Aerogel

    Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have come up with a light-weight sponge made of clay and plastic.

    4) Frozen Smoke

    Scientists in Arizona and New Jersey have developed a super light-weight hydrophobic silica aerogel that they call “frozen smoke.”

    5) Oil skimming booms

    Booms are made of a synthetic materials that are highly absorbent, such as the material used in diapers. They are usually about 10 to 20 feet long. They are filled with polypropylene and covered with an outer mesh.

    6) Hair booms

    To confront the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill, people have been collecting hair for booms. But according to NOAA, hair booms become waterlogged and sink quickly, and are therefore not highly recommended.

    7) Oil-water separation machine

    The oil-water separation machine developed by Kevin Costner, long-time actor in such movies as Dances with Wolves and Waterworld, and his team of scientists including his scientist brother, is the newest environmentally safe method for cleaning up oil spills. He has worked on the project for 15 years and invested $20 million in the project. It is manufactured by Ocean Therapy Solutions.

    BP, the company involved with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, agreed to try Kevin Costner’s oil-water separation machine. The machines are carried to the spill area by barges. The largest machine is a V20 and can clean up to 200 gallons per minute. The oil-water separation machine is capable of separating 99% of crude oil from water.

    Oil spills such as Valdez are painful reminders of how oil spills and oil spill clean-up methods can hurt the environment. It is hoped that the cleaners of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill will transcend conventional clean-up methods and replace them with environmentally safe methods. Birds and turtles are dying due to continued conventional practices that involve burning baby turtles alive while burning up debris.

    Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. Edited and used with her permission.

     
  • Earthling 12:22 am on February 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adret, Chambaran forest Park Center, Chambaran forest zadists, ÊTRE FORÊTS, Exploitation of the Congo forests, Forest activism in France, Hadadi Kaddou, Jean-Baptiste Vidalou, Morvan forest, Raoul Point Bar, Sadhana Forest, SNUPFEN, SOS Forest Collectives, Wild Car Forestry Group   

    Living Forest Letter 67 (from France) 

    (A peek into the world of francophone forest activism, translated from yonnelautre.com)

    Please share this letter if it seems helpful.

    1) This community in India is replanting a devastated forest

    Perhaps you’re among those who feel the need to go out and engage in causes that are dear to you? More and more people are deciding to venture out and invest themselves in projects that deal with concrete problems somewhere in the world, from both human and environmental points of view. We [Mr. Mondialisation Team] have spoken with one of these people, Titou, who spent six months in India where he participated in a vast reforestation project, Sadhana Forest.

    “I experimented with a way of living that was totally different from what you can experience anywhere else.” Furthermore, he described Sadhana Forest as a “laboratory of social, spiritual, and philosophical research to try and find a way to live on good terms with living beings.”

    https://mrmondialisation.org/en-inde-cette-communaute-replante-une-foret-devastee/ [French]

    2) France wants to exploit the forests of the Congo

    The French Development Agency is supporting the lifting of the moratorium on the exploitation of forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second largest rainforest area in the world, even as it forbids their exploitation publicly. This program could be responsible for the emission of at least 610 million tons of CO2, according to NGOs. That would be as much as international aviation caused in 2015.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/101217/la-france-veut-faire-exploiter-la-foret-du-congo [FRENCH]

    https://news.mongabay.com/2017/07/is-the-forestry-project-of-the-french-development-agency-threatening-the-peatlands-of-the-drc-commentary/ [ENGLISH]

    3) Besançon protest on Tuesday, December 5 [2017]: A first for the SOS Forest Collectives and a beautiful success for Adret behind the action.

    https://yonnelautre.fr/spip.php?article13537 [FRENCH]
    http://adretmorvan.org/manifestation-besancon-du-mardi-5-decembre-la-video/ [FRENCH]

    4) Jean-Baptiste Vidalou publishes “ÊTRE FORÊTS” [Being Forests]

    For a dozen years, whether it’s in the woods of Sivens, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, at Bure or in the Cevennes, something’s clearly been going on at the edges of the forests. Some people have begun to inhabit these spaces, with the determination to leave the deadly world of the economy. A completely different relation to the world is built there, remote from the military science of spatial planning – here against a dam, there against an airport, or a biomass extraction. This isn’t only a local affair: the farmers of Guerrero in Mexico have been fighting for more than 10 years to liberate their forests from exploiters; the Cree people in Canada are defending their Broadback boreal forest from deforestation; the Penan in Borneo are arming themselves with blowguns against oil palm plantation companies… Everywhere the battles resound with the same idea: the forest is not a biosphere reserve or a carbon well. The forest is a people in revolt. We have gone to meet these forests and those who defend them. We discovered countless continents, unique paths, ungovernable people. A whole geography from which it was possible, at last, to breathe.

    http://www.editions-zones.fr/spip.php?article180004 [FRENCH]

    5) What role is there for French forests and the French forestry-wood industry in climate change mitigation?

    This new study reproduced on June 27, 2017, addresses the potential role of the French forestry-wood industry in climate change mitigation. It was realized by the INRA and IGN at the request of the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

    http://institut.inra.fr/Missions/Eclairer-les-decisions/Etudes/Toutes-les-actualites/Forets-filiere-foret-bois-francaises-et-attenuation-du-changement-climatique [FRENCH]

    6) Wood energy in Europe: 15 renowned scientists denounce a European bill

    The European Ministers of Energy came together on Monday, December 18 to discuss the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive. One point particularly disturbed the scientific community: the extensive use of wood energy to achieve the renewable energy objectives. Fifteen scientists who are respected by their peers, including many members of GIEC, published an op-ed in the newspaper The Guardian which warned of the dangers of producing energy from forest biomass. France Nature Environnement, which has pointed out the possible negative effects of wood energy several times, applauded this move and relayed their words.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/eu-must-not-burn-the-worlds-forests-for-renewable-energy [ENGLISH]

    https://www.fne.asso.fr/actualites/bois-%C3%A9nergie-15-scientifiques-de-renom-d%C3%A9noncent-un-projet-de-loi-europ%C3%A9en [FRENCH]

    7) SNUPFEN: HK and the Foresters: “Wood factories!”

    A song written and interpreted by a group of activists from the Snupfen Solidaires union, with the help of HK (Hadadi Kaddour). Music composed by HK and the Raoul Point Bar and played by the latter. Recorded at the Cormo studio in Toul in January 2017. Video made by Agnès Bruckert with images from FX Drouet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkNu2RuhugA [FRENCH]

    8) In the Chambaran forest, objectors and zadists [defenders of a Zone to Defend] continue the stuggle against a Park Center

    “See you soon in the woods!” This invitation is put forth by the zadists who occupy the woods of Roybon. They will celebrate their third year of occupation this Saturday, December 16. The challenge: to stop the construction of a Park Center by the Pierre et Vacances group. Reporterre takes stock of this struggle to conserve the great forest.

    https://reporterre.net/Dans-la-foret-des-Chambarans-opposants-et-zadistes-poursuivent-la-lutte-contre [FRENCH]

    9) Wild Cat Forestry Group: Let’s save a patch of the Morvan forest!

    I would like to highlight this crowdfunding campaign to save a particularly biodiversity-rich patch of the Morvan forest from destruction:https://www.bulbintown.com/projects/sauver-ensemble-une-parcelle-de-foret-dans-le-morvan [FRENCH]

    https://yonnelautre.fr/spip.php?article9109#forum126729 [FRENCH]

    This letter was translated by Ulysses. Original letter was published on Posted on December 19, 2017.

     
  • Earthling 5:53 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Algeria Brings Back Shale Gas with Total 

    The Algerian company Sonatrach signed an agreement with Total in December 2017, which will allow the latter to exploit the unconventional “tight” gas field in Timimoun. This comes after nearly two years of poor relations between Algeria and Total, arising from tax disputes. Sonatrach’s CEO said they plan to “do many things together [with Total], particularly in shale gas, solar and offshore.”

    Total had prosecuted Algeria before an international tribunal over taxes on excess profits. Now, Algeria is suffering an economic decline due to the fall of hydrocarbon prices, so they are in a weak position to negotiate with big multinationals.

    Source: http://multinationales.org/L-Algerie-relance-le-gaz-de-schiste-avec-Total

    Translated by Ulysses.

     
  • Earthling 5:51 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Governments and Non-State Actors Must Take Urgent Action to Reach the Objectives of the Paris Agreement 

    • The pledges made at Paris only cover a third of the measures that will be needed to avoid drastic consequences from climate change.
    • By adopting new technologies in key sectors and investing less than 100 dollars per ton of CO2, emissions can be reduced by 32 gigatons per year by 2030.
    • The negative climatic consequences of CO2 emissions can be reduced through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, through measures addressing short-lived climate pollutants, and through raised ambitions concerning the pledges made at Cancun for the climate by 2020,

    According to a new UN study, governments and non-state actors must strive ambitiously to ensure meeting the objectives of the Paris Accord.

    The eighth edition of the annual UN report on the gap between the needs and the outlook for emissions reduction (Emissions Gap Report), published in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, reveals that pledges made by countries at a national level only represent a third of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to meet the objectives for the struggle against climate change. Measures taken in the private sector and at the subnational level are not increasing at a sufficient pace to bridge this unsettling gap.

    The Paris Agreement aims to prevent global warming from going beyond 2°C, but an even more ambitious objective of 1.5°C was also suggested. Reaching these goals would reduce the risk of serious climatic consequences that would be harmful for humans, means of subsistence, and the economies of the entire world.

    The way things are currently going, a complete implementation of conditional and unconditional intended nationally determined contributions would very likely be followed by an increase of temperatures by at least 3°C by 2100. “Unconditional” means that governments will be required to make more substantial pledges when they are revised in 2020.

    In case the United States follows through with its declared intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the scenario could be even darker.

    Nevertheless, the report offers practical solutions for drastically reducing CO2 emissions by quickly developing mitigation measures based on existing models in the fields of agriculture, construction, energy, forestry, industry and transportation.

    The reduction of CO2 emissions can also be greatly helped by strong measures to reduce climate pollutants, for example hydrofluorocarbons (through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol), as well as other short-lived pollutants such as black carbon.

    “A year after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, we find ourselves in a situation where the efforts being made are still inadequate to avoid a miserable future for hundreds of millions of people,” says Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UN Environment.

    “It’s unacceptable. If we invest in adequate technologies and ensure that the private sector is involved, it will be possible to respect the promise we’ve made to our children to protect their future.  We have to deal with this right now.”

    CO2 emissions were stable in 2014, thanks in part to the transition towards renewable energy sources, especially in China and India. This aroused hope that emissions had reached their peak and would follow a downward trajectory until 2020. Nevertheless, the report revealed that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, continue to increase, and the acceleration of global economic growth could be responsible for an increase of CO2 emissions.

    The report shows that the pledges made under the Paris Agreement would lead to a level of emissions equal to 11 to 13.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide (GtCO2eq) in 2030, which is above the level required to keep the world on the least costly path and meet the 2°C temperature increase objective. A gigaton is roughly equal to the emissions produced in a year by the transportation industry (including aviation) in the EU.

    According to new, recently published studies, the emissions gap for the goal of 1.5°C of global warming is between 16 and 19 GtCO2eq, more severe than previously anticipated.

    “The Paris Agreement gave a new impetus to the struggle against climate change, but this impetus is weakening,” says Edgar E. Gutiérrez-Espeleta, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy and also the President of the United Nations Assembly for the Environment in 2017. “We are facing a painful decision: raise our ambitions or suffer the consequences of lowering them.”

    Investing in technology is the key to success

    In order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, governments (including by increasing their pledges), the private sector, cities and other stakeholders absolutely must follow up on the initial measures, which will lead to rapid and profound emissions reductions.

    The report details different ways to get there, particularly in the fields of agriculture, construction, energy, forestry, industry and transportation. Investments in technologies specific to these sectors — costing less than 100 dollars per ton of CO2 avoided, and often a lot less – could help avoid up to 36 GtCO2eq per year by 2030.

    By themselves, these reductions would put the world on the path to reaching the 2°C objective and open up the possibility of reaching the ambitious goal of 1.5°C.

    Non-state measures and other initiatives

    The measures promised by non-state and subnational entities (such as cities and the private sector) can reduce the 2030 emissions gap by several GtCO2eq, even taking into account overlaps with the nationally determined contributions. For example, the 100 listed companies responsible for the most emissions in the world represent around a fourth of global greenhouse gas emissions, which gives us a lot of leeway to hope for higher ambitions.

    The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to eliminate the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals mainly used for air conditioning, refrigeration and insulating foam. Even if it was implemented with success, it would intervene too late to have an impact on the emissions gap in 2030, but it could still significantly contribute to reaching temperature goals in the longer term.

    By the middle of the century, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, could reduce the effects from cumulative heat absorption and help to maintain a stable lowered trajectory for temperatures in accordance with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

    Furthermore, although the G20 are collectively on the right path for respecting their climate pledges made at Cancun for 2020, these pledges are not ambitious enough to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement (see attached analysis of the Cancun pledges). The year 2020 is approaching fast, yet the G20 countries can still take measures that will lead to emissions reductions in the short term and open the way for more changes over the course of the next decade.

    It would be of great help to stop opening new coal power plants and accelerate the closing of existing plants, while also ensuring proper management of problems like unemployment, investors’ interests and grid stability. There are an estimated 6,683 active coal power plants in the world, with a combined capacity of 1,964 GW. If these plants were used until the end of their lifespan and not reconfigured for carbon capture and storage, they would emit 190 gigatons of cumulative CO2.

    At the start of the year 2017, an additional capacity of 273 GW from coal power plants was under construction and a capacity of 570 GW was in pre-construction. These new plants could produce additional cumulative emissions of around 150 GtCO2eq. Approximately 85% of all coal pipelines are in 10 countries: China, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and South Korea.

    The report also examines the elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere through afforestation, reforestation, forest management, restoring degraded lands, and improving carbon stocks in soil –- so many solutions for heading towards a reduction of emissions.

    Furthermore, a new report published by the 1 Gigaton Coalition shows that renewable energy and energy efficiency projects undertaken by partners in developing countries can bring about a reduction of 1.4 GtCO2eq by 2020 – on the condition that the international community helps the developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions.

    “Renewable energy and energy efficiency have many advantages, notably including better health for human beings and new jobs, so I implore the international community to provide the promised funds to support developing countries in their efforts to fight climate change,” said Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s Foreign Minister. “The projects and policies in favor of renewable energy and energy efficiency supported by the partners are crucial for the decarbonization of the world, because they provide key resources and create favorable environments in critical regions.”

    The 1 Gigaton Coalition is supported by UN Environment and the Norwegian government.

    The advantages of a low-carbon society for the reduction of global pollution –- which would allow us to avoid, for example, millions of deaths linked to air pollution each year –- are also clearly illustrated in Towards a Pollution-free Planet, a report from the Executive Director of UN Environment that will be presented at the next UN Assembly for the Environment. The report presents an ambitious framework for fighting against pollution, through political leadership or through sustainable consumption and production, and by investing massively in sustainable development.

    Sources

    Annual Emissions Gap Report

    Analysis of pledges made at G20 Cancun [French]

    1 Gigaton Coalition Report

    Translated by Ulysses from an article on CDURABLE.info

     
  • Earthling 1:39 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bees in France, , Insect Pollinators in France, NGO, Noé, Pollinators, Wild Pollinators   

    The Decline of Insect Pollinators in France 

    The Decline of Insect Pollinators in France

    Noé demands that appropriate actions be taken

    (Translated from an article by Cyrille on CDURABLE.info)

    On September 27,  the ANSES (National Health Security Agency) authorized the use of two pesticides based on sulfoxaflor, a substance that has the same mode of action as the neonicotinoid pesticides  known for their harmful effect on bees. At the same time, Noé warns of the critical decline of insect pollinator populations and demands that urgent, appropriate action be taken to restore wild insect pollinator populations.

    One of the solutions that has recently become widespread to combat the decline of insect pollinators in France is the installation of beehives. These are only useful for one of the 6,500 species of insect pollinators in France: the domestic bee. Beyond just being inadequate, this solution could even be counterproductive for wild pollinators (solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, bumblebees, etc.), in particular because of the food competition it provokes between these species who no longer have enough food resources at their disposal.

    Noé demands that appropriate actions be taken to safeguard all the wild pollinators.

    Insect pollinators, little known and yet indispensable

    There are no less than 6500 species of insect pollinators in metropolitan France. Among the almost 900 species of bees in France, most of them are solitary, and only the sole domestic species, Apis Mellifera, produces honey.

    In spite of their indispensable role in agriculture and the dynamics of natural environments, wild pollinators remain poorly known by the general public. For example,  wild bees are quite different from their domestic cousin, and even quite different from each other: their sizes, their functions, the flowers they forage, their nests, the times of the day when they can be observed, so many peculiarities that make them unique. Yet only 40% of wild bees have a known conservation status, and among those, one out of five is endangered!

    Populations of pollinating species, of course including bees, are clearly declining in industrialized countries. In Europe, for example, the population of wild and domestic bees has declined by 37%, while the butterfly population has declined by 31%. The causes are numerous and essentially linked to human activities: widespread use of pesticides, the disappearance of habitats and nesting places (especially hedges and groves), scarcity of wild plants rich in nectar, the introduction of alien species, and various pollutions.

    But if the losses among domestic bee populations cause a strong reaction, thus expressing a true sympathy for this species domesticated by Man thousands of years ago for the production of honey, what we should really be concerned with is the preservation of all wild pollinating species. This is because their disappearance is a serious ecological issue. 90% of wild plants and more than 75% of food crops in the world, so practically all fruits and vegetables, are dependent on wild pollinators. The contribution of the domestic bee only represents around a third of the total pollination activity, and the rest is provided by wild pollinators. [1] Furthermore, scientists have shown that the yield and quality of crops depend on both a diversity and abundance of pollinators. Thus, the complimentarity between wild insects and domestic bees is essential for improving the quality and yield of crops. [2]

    Solutions implemented are often inadequate to preserve wild pollinators

    Solutions for stopping this decline are conceived and applied, but they are quite often inadequate due to a lack of knowledge, or because they arise more from a fashionable movement than from proper ecological management.

    Thus, in France, more and more companies, groups and individuals are installing beehives in their sites, green spaces and gardens. Far from conserving all wild pollinators, these hives are refuges only for the domestic bee. Once a number of hives are installed in a given territory, they can have disastrous consequences for the wild pollinator populations. How can one support biodiversity while only safeguarding one out of 6,500 pollinating species? Can one say that one is saving wolves by simply owning dogs? It’s the same kind of logic.

    All the more so since most beehives in France house varieties of the domestic bee that do not originate from Northwest Europe. In fact, the only subspecies of domestic bee native to this region of Europe is the black bee. This subspecies is sadly becoming increasingly rare in the apiaries of our region, as they give way to subspecies imported from other European regions (Italy, Caucasus, Slovenia, etc.) with the sole objective of enabling more productive colonies. The installation of beehives housing imported domestic bee populations cannot be an adequate means of preserving the ordinary local biodiversity.

    Real food competition between domestic bees and wild pollinators

    According to recent studies [3], the installation of beehives near a unique source of food is very likely to create a situation of direct, fierce competition between domestic bees and wild pollinators over access to food resources. In this case, domestic and wild bees are no longer complementary but rather must compete for survival. First of all, there is the number advantage: a colony of domestic bees will have a numerical superiority to solitary wild bees (a medium-sized hive contains some 40,000 bees). Furthermore, the foraging distance of wild bees rarely exceeds 300 meters, as opposed to a maximum of 5 kilometers for domestic bees, which makes them much more efficient at using food resources.

    This competition can sometimes even go so far as to cause the extinction of wild species [4]. In fact, wild bees are often specialized for certain plants and only able to forage a few species of flowers, whereas the domestic bee is very generalized. The domestic bee can thus live near monoculture fields or homogenous woods, as opposed to the more specialized wild bees.

    Domestic bees “guardians of the environment”, really?

    The presence of domestic bees is often presented as an indicator of the quality of ecosystems. This claim oversimplifies things. In reality, although hives can be very productive of honey, whether in urban or suburban areas, this only gives an indication of the quantity of food resources available in their radius of activity, and has no bearing on the diversity of plant species or their local character.

    On the other hand, the decline of domestic bee populations is a very good indicator of degradation in the areas around the hives, highlighting in a simple and direct way the usage of pesticides, the disappearance, fragmentation and pollution of their habitats, or even the presence of exotic species that are a direct threat to the survival of the species (as in the case of the Asian hornet which attacks domestic bees).

    Simple solutions do exist to stop the decline of pollinators and restore their populations all across the land. Noé proposes actions and tools for all, and especially for elected officials, site managers, land planners, etc., in the hopes of restoring areas of refuge, reproduction and feeding for insect pollinators.

    1. Stop the usage of pesticides

    As a precondition for the restoration of populations of wild pollinators and domestic bees, the neonicotinoid family of pesticides must be forbidden. These molecules will be forbidden to use in France as of September 1, 2018, for all farmers, groups and individuals. However, there is still a possibility of derogations that would delay the effective application of the ban until 2020, even though alternatives (without synthetic chemical products) exist! Noé promotes these alternatives through its action programs for agroecology and ecological management of public and private green spaces. Noé also suggests to integrate educational modules on alternatives to pesticides into curriculums for the education of professionals in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture, in order to bring about practical and lasting changes.

    1. Promote alternatives to pesticides in agriculture

    Agriculture has an important role in the preservation of insect pollinators because of its territorial dominance, its impact on countrysides and ecosystems, and its obligations in terms of meeting the food needs of populations. Noé thinks that we must first and foremost cease the usage of phytosanitary products and encourage practices that respect the environment, such as organic agriculture, permaculture, and agroecology in general. In this context, crop combination, the organic struggle and even biocontrol will bring concrete pest-control solutions that are respectful of man, the environment and pollinators. Let us recall that agriculture represents around 90% of phytosanitary product usage, and that only 4% of usable agricultural land today is organic.

    1. Reduce monocultures, deserts devoid of food for many specialized insect pollinators, and offer refuge to these insects at the edges of fields

    Many species of pollinators are specialized in foraging only a few species. For them, monocultures are deserts in terms of food resources. To address this, Noé proposes measures respecting biodiversity and pollinators in different agricultural sectors, in order to develop agroecological practices, especially in the agro-food sector where the yield of crops is directly dependent on pollinators (fruit trees, sunflowers, rapeseed, etc.). Noé provides tools and protocols for developing and monitoring measures to restore favorable environments for pollinators near agricultural sites (grass strips, summer fallows, prairies, hedges, ponds, etc.).

    1. Promote a diversity of regional flowers

    Land planners need coherent technical solutions to restore environments affected by developments. Noé creates eco-regional mixtures adapted to local biogeographical conditions, composed of local plant species, with a preference for regionally produced seeds. These mixtures are specially designed to rapidly respond to land planners’ needs, while supporting biodiversity and especially wild pollinators.

    The “Noé wild pollinators” grain mix, developed for France, was evaluated for three years and its functionality and interest for insect pollinators were thus scientifically validated: in three years, the “Noé wild pollinators” mix attracted almost 40 times more wild and domestic bees than a conventional mix for late mowing.

    1. Install shelters for wild bees

    Hotels for wild bees are increasingly often installed in gardens of individuals, green spaces of groups, and companies’ parks, yet they nevertheless require some precautions. The best places to install bee hotels are sunny, relatively warm and dry, and at least 50 cm from the ground to prevent prolonged contact with the humidity of surrounding vegetation. Avoid places that are exposed to prevailing winds. An exposure to the south or southeast is more likely to be favorable for the lodging of pollinators.

    1. Limit artificial lighting

    Recent studies show that in artificially lighted sites, the number of visits to flowers by pollinators decreases by 62%! Besides this observation, and with regard to the mobility of nocturnal species, a number of factors point to the necessity of adjusting lighting (limitation if not removal) near ecological corridors (TVB), to limit the fragmenting impact of light and guarantee the functioning of existing corridors. This action is often an implementation of the idea of “night corridors” or “black corridors.” So, maintaining conserved nocturnal environments is a necessity for biodiversity, especially within the most remarkable territories. Noé recommends adopting practices that limit harmful light and integrating them into territorial action plans.

    1. Better manage the installation of beehives in cities

    In recent years, cities have become homes to beehives overwhelmingly supported by professionals and individuals. With less pesticides, a higher medium temperature than rural areas, and short flowering cycles allowing for regular feeding, the city would appear to have only advantages for pollinators. Nevertheless, certain precautions must be taken. The most important one for Noé is to above all use local bees who are adapted to the climatic and geographical conditions of the region. Next, in order to avoid food competition, have specialists verify that the installation of the hives won’t significantly impact wild pollinators, for example by checking to see if the surroundings of the hives have enough floral resources and shelters for regional wild bees.

    1. Better know the diversity of wild pollinators in order to better protect them

    Far too few are aware that there are species of bees other than the domestic bee, and that they are for the most part solitary and don’t produce honey. Similarly, the pollinating role of butterflies, hoverflies and some coleopteras (beetles) is very little known. Take the time to observe them in a garden, a city green space or in the countryside, and you will become more aware of their diversity. The creation of an Observatory for solitary bees by Noé not only allows them to make these species known to the general public, but also and most importantly it enables everyone to actively participate in the furthering of scientific knowledge of these species through a participative science system.

    …for the benefit of all!

    It’s important to remember that the protection of pollinators is a positive investment for:

    • Agriculturalists, whose crops depend on the service of pollinators, and who gain from the complementarity between domestic and wild bees, which increase crop yields and the nutritional quality of produce when there are sufficient resources available to them.
    • Companies, who can effectively participate in protecting pollinators, while involving their collaborators in meaningful activities.
    • The general public, which can actively participate in furthering knowledge of these species by getting involved through Noé’s participative science programs.

    Noé and Pollinator Conservation, A Long History

    Noé is a non-profit general interest organization that was founded in 2001. Its purpose is to protect and restore biodiversity in France and abroad, for a durable and living world where humanity and biodiversity can live in harmony.

    With a pragmatic, positive and optimistic approach, Noé has chosen to take action by giving every one of us the means to be an actor in the preservation and restoration of biodiversity.

    For more than 15 years, Noé has been implementing land programs to restore areas of refuge, reproduction and feeding for insect pollinators.

    Noé is also behind the “Act Together for Wild Pollinators” program, which has the purpose of supporting the maintenance and restoration of wild insect pollinator populations, both common and endangered, in metropolitan France. This program responds to a strong need to improve our knowledge of the status of wild pollinators and to conserve endangered species, as well as our medium-term need to restore ordinary natural environments in both urban and rural settings, and to mobilize civil society (general public, groups, companies) on this major environmental issue.

    Noé’s programs thus enable us to take direct action to ensure the protection of pollinators, along with programs to restore the ordinary natural environments they depend on for food and reproduction.

    Noé also engages in advocacy toward policymakers in the hopes of integrating the issue of the maintenance of insect pollinator populations into structural policies relating to agriculture, land development, and urban development (an increasing number of wild pollinators are finding refuge in cities, paradoxically because of more favorable conditions for their development than in certain rural areas, especially in terms of heat, pollution, abundance and permanence of food resources, and moderated usage of phytosanitary products).

    [1] Report of the IPBES 3A working group for policymakers for the thematic evaluation of pollinators, pollination and food production.

    [2]Breeze, T.D., Bailey, A.P., Balcombe, K.G. & Potts, S.G. (2011): Pollinisation services in the UK: How important are honeybees? Agriculture, Ecosystems.

    [3] Massively Introduced Managed Species and Their Consequences for Plant–Pollinator Interactions – Advances in Ecological Research Volume 57, 2017, Pages 147–199

    [4] Bombuscullumanus — an extinct European bumblebee species? – Apidologie – March 2013, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 121–132

    [5] Guide de gestion écologique pour favoriser les Abeilles Sauvages et la Nature en Ville, Urban Bees, Life +, INRA Avignon, Arthropologia, 2014

    This Article was translated by Ulysses from the exquisite French article on CDURABLE.info

     

     
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