Archive for June, 2007

A mainstream animal conservation campaign by a powerhouse media organisation like the BBC is to be welcomed with open arms …. and willing credit card!

The ‘Saving Planet Earth’ campaign concentrates on some of the most endangered species and is promoted via a series of 1/2 hour slots on BBC1 at the moment. Each programme looks at the perilous state of a different animal and are fronted by a different celebrity.

Tonight’s programme was about the tiger in India where Fiona Bruce, a well known BBC news reader, went to find out what can be done with donors money to improve tiger numbers, currently and shockingly hovering around just 2000 in number! Tigers need a large forest and grass range, preferably without human villages within.

The solution is to purchase a large area of forest in southern India and to relocate people living within it. Those people can only volunteer to leave but, are incentivised with a new home in a newly constructed village that has all modern amenities. They have been happy to move and have the added bonus of getting away from the tigers who do attack sometimes.

A strong and clear campaign asking for our money.

I’ve done just that on behalf of my family. Hope you will too! 🙂


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Photo: Emma Lynch, for the BBC.

Known as “gardens of the poor,” they originated in Europe about 150 years ago at the height of the industrial revolution when cities, municipalities, and monasteries provided plots for the urban poor to grow food for their families. These gardens proliferated by the thousands in Germany and other European cities during the second half of the 19th century.

Now they are spreading throughout the world with over half of the world population living in cities since the year 2000. The rapid urbanization of formerly sleepy rural centers has caused urban poverty, alienation, and other problems, bringing about natural, manmade, and technological risks which threaten the livelihood, health and lives of people.

In the Philippines city of Cagayan de Oro a ten year project called the Periurban Vegetable Project has been bearing fruit … and vegetables for urban poor. Run by Xavier University College of Agriculture (XUCA), based in Cagayan de Oro and funded with EU money, the project aimed to open its sixth garden project by the end of the year.

Meanwhile in Caracas, Venezuela they have been busy emmulating the organic gardening revolution of Cuba by opening up the The Organoponico Bolivar I garden, which occupies 1.2 acres in the centre of Caracas and is the first of its kind in the capital.

You can see photos of their hard work here.

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The Grand Canal system of China (or Da Yun He), 2400 years old and 1800km long, is being revitalized piece by piece. It once connected Beijing at its northernmost extension and Hanghzou at its southernmost point, with many cities in between. Despite the fact that the canal is no longer navigable between Beijing and the city of Jining in Shandong Province, about a third of its length, the remaining section south to Hangzhou remains in heavy use. The complete transport artery once connected China’s great west-to-east river systems, carrying the goods, taxes and official communications that sustained successive dynasties.

In Hangzhou a huge restoration project costing $250m has been under way since 2001 to clean up the effluent from textile and petrochemical factories lining the canal, combined with raw sewage from the surrounding suburbs, which had poisoned this section of the world’s oldest man-made waterway. Historical monuments and buildings have renewed protection, with walkways and parkland now lining sections of the canal and some of China’s most expensive apartment buildings have sprung up in what has become prime real estate.

For a growing number of activists campaigning for the preservation of the 1,794-kilometer canal and its many cultural and historical sites, this success is an important step in reversing almost two centuries of neglect, during which long sections of the waterway that links Hangzhou with the capital, Beijing, were abandoned or fell into disrepair.

“We can borrow from this experience,” said Zhu Bingren, a well-known Hangzhou artist who with fellow activists has called on the central and local governments to develop a comprehensive strategy for rehabilitating the canal. “It can’t be copied for every city, but a lot of experts are generally satisfied with Hangzhou’s method.”

More from the IHT here.

This is a very good example of local environmental activism working in China. The central government and many provincial cities now have the wealth to invest in projects that improve their city environments and invest in further wealth creation such as tourism.

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From the C-Change site;

‘Funded by the government’s Climate Challenge Fund, C-Change is a project which aims to engage young people who have some knowledge and concern about climate change in raising the awareness of their peers. The Woodcraft Folk’s steering committee of twenty young people are planning to run a wide range of events and activities during the coming year.

The Woodcraft Folk has extensive experience in education for sustainable development within the youth work field. We have run many programmes which have raised young people’s awareness of the vital issues facing the future of our planet and empowered them to take action on these.

Recent research has highlighted that young people are relatively unaware of the need to take action about climate change. They are reasonably aware of the existence of climate change but have a poor understanding of its causes and the action that we need to take to reduce the effects of this impact. A long-term attitude change amongst youth will reap the greatest benefits in mitigating climate change.

Research has also highlighted the fact that young people are more likely to change their attitudes from discussions with fellow young people rather than teachers and we believe that peer education offers an excellent way of getting the climate change message across.’


1. about Woodcraft Folk.
2. C-Change Home page.
3. Defra is funding this via their ‘Tomorrow’s Climate Today’s Challenge’ education initiative aimed at raising awareness about climate change and what individuals can do to try and mitigate against it.

There’s even a Party for the Planet, Saturday 7 July, 2007 at Clapham Common, London.

These kids are going to end up being super clued up on climate change, sorry, C-Change! 🙂

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Pdf: Educational resource showing above poster.

Walk to School Week is very popular with the children of our kid’s school. The teachers do a very good job of communicating the clear messages prepared by the the charity Living Streets and Travelwise. The ’60 balloons’ graphic shown above gives a very clear message and gives a direct impact of the result of driving your kids to school.

Clear communication is key to a campaign becoming successful and having the desired maximum impact. Only this way will behavioural changes be made. Walk to School Week is a good example of how intelligent, clear and focused environment campaign messages can effect change within communities across the UK.

Oops, balloons filled with CO2 shouldn’t float
(note the picture above). OK, the campaign wasn’t perfect! 🙂

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Lyme Regis Town Mill

The new hydro-electric plant, installed in the old Town Mill at Lyme Regis (Dorset, UK) is an excellent example of local renewable projects happening around the country. It takes advantage of the government’s Clear Skies Renewable Energy grants, an old mill system already in place and lots of local community spirit!

Clear Skies is now replaced by the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. The low carbon buildings programme will provide grants for microgeneration technologies to householders, community organisations, schools, the public and not for profit sector and private businesses.

The new hydro-electric system at Lyme Regis was officially opened on 1 March 2007, when children from three local schools operated two sluices to direct river water into the hydro system before the water turbine was switched on to start producing our ‘green’ electricity.

Lyme Regis is a beautiful English seaside town and the Town Mill has a big role to play. Visit the Town Mill website here and here for more on the hydro-electric plant.

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Policy is never really something to get excited about but, good policies can have very positive impacts if they are thought through and implemented properly.

On July 1st the WEEE Directive or, Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment comes into force. I’ve just had a letter from our local lamp supplier detailing its effects on the consumer.

Put simply;
1. a 15 pence ‘weee’ levy will be charged on each lamp purchased.
2. this cost will be outlined separately on the invoice
3. lamps are meant to be taken by the purchaser/customer to a recycle ‘drop point’ as the 15p/lamp charge hasn’t been worked out to include transportation.

Our supplier has chosen to stand out from the crowd by offering a FREE lamp waste collection service. Now that’s positive!

This now means recycling costs per lamp have reduced from approximately 50p down to 15p. Progress indeed!

More information on the WEEE Directive from the RSA here

Please note: Your lamp retailer will make an extra charge to the consumer at some point within the lifecycle of the product, in order to recover recycling costs incurred as a result of the WEEE levy.

They will do this at the point of purchase or charge later for recycling. All retailers should make this clear to you the customer. If they haven’t ask them where they have made the charge; at POS or as part of their recycling service.

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