‘Reinventing’ sustainability: A collaborative passion

A portable, lightweight wind turbine to assist with energy demands during a natural disaster; an on-campus food bank for hungry, food-insecure students; greenhouse technology to help small share farmers in Africa grow their own food and diversify their diets; and thousands of photographs taken to document the transformation in our local communities resulting from the Marcellus Shale boom. These are the creations of Penn State students with a passion for addressing sustainability issues — locally, regionally and across the globe — with assistance from the Reinvention Fund, an internal grant program to support collaborative projects by faculty, staff and students that improve and expand sustainability efforts at Penn State. The fund, managed by the University’s Sustainability Institute, invested more than $850,000 in such projects in 2014 and simultaneously provided valuable learning experiences for the participants.

BRAZIL NUT SPECIAL: Q&A with researcher – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)


Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

BRAZIL NUT SPECIAL: Q&A with researcher
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
… resource base. This research was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). CIFOR's research on forests, climate change and sustainability forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

BRAZIL NUT SPECIAL: Q&A with Cara Rockwell – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

BRAZIL NUT SPECIAL: Q&A with Cara Rockwell
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
… resource base. This research was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). CIFOR's research on forests, climate change and sustainability forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Neil Young Takes Permaculture on New West Coast Tour – Permaculture Magazine


Permaculture Magazine

Neil Young Takes Permaculture on New West Coast Tour
Permaculture Magazine
Legendary singer, songwriter and activist Neil Young (www.neilyoung.com) has once again invited Permaculture magazine on tour in the USA. Neil's Rebel Content Tour in support of his recent The Monsanto Years album takes place at mostly indoor venues, …

Thousands Benefit From Ja REEACH Project – Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service


Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service

Thousands Benefit From Ja REEACH Project
Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service
Also, more than 25 extension agents received training in agro-meteorology; 20 agroforestry demonstration plots and projects were established and over 936 farmers applied individual innovations on farm plots; 300 farmers graduated from 17 climate-smart …

Farmworker protections? On their way — finally.

As we celebrate Labor Day this year, too many of this country's 80 million workers still don't receive fair wages or adequate workplace protections — including workers on farms across the country. But there's a change coming for farmworkers, with stronger workplace protections on the horizon.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been promising to strengthen existing rules for the past 15 years. Thanks to thousands of people — farmworkers, farmers, healthcare professionals and more — keeping clear, public pressure on the agency, the agency is finally poised to make it happen.

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President Lungu advocates for alternative energy sources – Lusaka Times


Lusaka Times

President Lungu advocates for alternative energy sources
Lusaka Times
… representative to COMESA, French President's Deputy Advisor for Africa Thomas Melonio, Scientific Adviser for Environmental, Bioversity and Climate Gilles Boeuf and the Advisor in charge of Bioversity, Landscape and Agro-ecology Vincent Jechoux.

and more »

Man grows vegetable garden in toilet bowls and fertilises it with HUMAN FAECES – Daily Mail


Daily Mail

Man grows vegetable garden in toilet bowls and fertilises it with HUMAN FAECES
Daily Mail
Growing plants using human excrement is not a new method in China. According to agroecology.org, human fertiliser or 'nightsoil' has been used in the country for thousands of years. It is believed to be a nutrient-rich fertiliser that sustains soil

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Ice Cream Short Course offers a sweet education

Believed to be the oldest continuing education course in the United States, the Ice Cream Short Course traces its roots to 1892, when the then-School of Agriculture at the Pennsylvania State College began to offer a class in dairy manufacturing during the winter, when farmers had less field work and could be spared away from their farms. By 1925, ice cream had become so popular that the college created a separate course devoted exclusively to the subject.

Nespresso is improving the lives of thousands of coffee farmers – New Food (press release)


New Food (press release)

Nespresso is improving the lives of thousands of coffee farmers
New Food (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed on its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

Nestlé Nespresso working to improve the lives of thousands of coffee farmers – New Food (press release)


New Food (press release)

Nestlé Nespresso working to improve the lives of thousands of coffee farmers
New Food (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed on its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

Government urged NOT to sign Protocol on Protection of new Plant Varieties – Lusaka Times

Government urged NOT to sign Protocol on Protection of new Plant Varieties
Lusaka Times
The Zambia Alliance for Agro-Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation has called on government not to sign the African Region Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) draft protocol on the protection of new plant varieties as it criminalizes small scale …

Global dreams, global impact

To mark World Environment Day on June 5, the United Nations challenged the whole world to take action: “Seven billion dreams. One planet. Consume with care.”

A beautiful sentiment, to be sure. But I’d add, between the dreams and the planet, “Thousands of networks.” Because we’ll need to link our dreams — and our actions — across communities, borders and oceans if we want to see the sweeping changes that many of us envision.

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Anti-GMO protesters march against Monsanto in Burkina Faso – spyghana.com


spyghana.com

Anti-GMO protesters march against Monsanto in Burkina Faso
spyghana.com
Thousands activists of the collective citizenship for agro-ecology, of which many Europeans, took to the streets on Saturday at Ouagadougou to demonstrate against genetically modified organism (GMO) and the specialized GMO distribution multinational …

Brazil: Five thousand women march for agroecology – News from AgriCultures Network

Brazil: Five thousand women march for agroecology
News from AgriCultures Network
March 2015: "We are marching for health, for quality of life, for public policies. We, women, have the capacity to do anything. I have that capacity, as has every one of you here." With these words Marlene Pereira, vice president of the Rural Workers

CAN Youth Network Capacity Building Exchange

April 13-19, 2015: Nicaragua

The first internal capacity building exchange of CAN’s network this year took place the week of April 13-19, 2015.  More than 25 women and youth leaders from CAN’s partner organizations VIDA AC in Veracruz, Mexico, PRODECOOP and CII-ASDENIC in Las Segovias, Nicaragua, and the UCA San Ramón in San Ramón, Nicaragua joined together for 7 days of exchange and training. The aim was to build skills and knowledge around building sustainable food systems in coffee-growing communities. The exchange, which included activities in both San Ramón and Las Segovias, Nicaragua, built on the themes covered during the Intercambio event held in Santa Cruz, California in February 2015. The exchange included workshops and activities related to the topics of:

  • building artisanal water cisterns for water catchment and storage;
  • making organic fertilizers like effective microorganisms, biomineral applications, and other soil fertility preparations to help combat la roya agroecologically;
  • women-led rural enterprises, including the experience of the women’s coffee-roasting business and women’s café in San Ramon;
  • crop diversification in coffee forests;
  • natural medicine using garden plants; and
  • community-based rural tourism experiences.

Important outcomes of the exchange included 12 cooperative youth leaders trained in the construction of artisanal water cisterns; more than 20 women trained in making natural medicines from plants found in home gardens; increased knowledge of the potentials of community-based rural tourism, coffee-forest diversification, and innovative soil fertility techniques in building resilient families and communities.

An early outcome of this exchange was the drafting of a resolution consolidating the group’s commitment to agroecological coffee as a sustainable food system, with the following collective objectives identified:

  1. Initiate a dialogue about the definition of Agroecological Coffee;
  2. Receive feedback and support from CAN to generate a collective identity regarding an Agroecological Coffee Farmer;
  3. Analyze the importance of an Participatory Agroecological Certification as a strategy to strengthen the organizations and communities we work with; and
  4. Analyze the idea of creating a collective brand of women’s coffee to promote the economic empowerment of women.

Our partners have specifically requested CAN’s accompaniment in reaching these objectives. CAN is excited to support the furthering of these objectives that will benefit thousands of smallholder coffee growing families in Nicaragua and Mexico.

Student Farm Initiative to host free screening of “Food Chains” on April 21

The Penn State Student Farm Initiative will host a free screening of Food Chains on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Paterno Library Foster Auditorium on the Penn State University Park campus. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. Food Chains is a documentary about a group of Florida farm workers and their battle to defeat the $4 trillion global supermarket industry, revealing the rampant abuse of farm laborers in the United States.

Selective predation by benthivorous fish on stream macroinvertebrates – The role of prey traits and prey abundance

Publication date: May 2015
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters, Volume 52
Author(s): Susanne Worischka , Susanne Isabel Schmidt , Claudia Hellmann , Carola Winkelmann
The prey selectivity of fish depends largely on traits of the prey and the predator. Preferable prey traits might be different for visual predators (such as drift-feeding salmonids) and rather non-visual predators (such as benthic feeders). We evaluated the explanatory power of five prey traits and prey long-term abundance for the prey selection of small benthivorous fish by analysing the macroinvertebrate community and the diet of gudgeon ( Gobio gobio ) and stone loach ( Barbatula barbatula ) in two small submontane streams. Fuzzy principal component analyses, as well as electivity indices, revealed that the fish fed selectively. Prey size and feeding type were the most descriptive variables for the fish diet, followed by mean abundance, whereas microhabitat preference, locomotion mode and current velocity preference were less important. The fish preferred prey that was both small and consistently abundant, grazers and sediment feeders. Larger prey and shredders were avoided. The selection patterns of both fish species differed from those of visual fish predators but strongly resembled each other. Supporting this, in gudgeon which feeds slightly more visually than the strictly nocturnal stone loach, selectivity concerning prey traits as well as prey mean abundance was slightly more pronounced. We analyzed also selectivity for prey clusters based on the three most important variables. The observed selectivity patterns concerning these clusters were less pronounced but supported the other results. The maximum (neutral) electivity index was that of gudgeon for small, abundant grazers or sediment feeders, including chironomids. We conclude that prey selection of benthivorous fish that forage mainly non-visually can largely be explained by a small number of prey traits which probably work in combination. The prey preferences of these predators seem to be closely connected to their active foraging mode and to depend partly on the ability to detect prey visually.

New report: On cancer risk & strawberry fields

Last fall PAN partnered with Justin Matlow, a concerned parent and teacher in the heart of California's strawberry-growing country, to monitor for pesticide drift. Today — to mark Cesar Chavez day — we joined Justin, farmworker advocates and other community partners to release our findings.

What did the data show? In short, our Drift Catcher project found that when the cancer-causing pesticide chloropicrin was being applied in a nearby field, concentrations in the air near Justin's Watsonville home were at or above levels considered "of concern" by both state and federal agencies. For the sake of thousands of California families living near strawberry fields, we hope the regulators are paying attention.

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ActionAid says Uganda counterpart has apologised after official spoke out … – Third Sector


Third Sector

ActionAid says Uganda counterpart has apologised after official spoke out
Third Sector
… we ask that they do so through the lens of our expertise. "That lies in tackling rural poverty through the promotion of sustainable agriculture. ActionAid works with tens of thousands of poor farmers worldwide in agro-ecology that encourages

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April 7 talk to explore alleviating food insecurity in the U.S.

What we know and what we need to know about food insecurity in the United States will be the topic of the 2015 M.E. John Lecture, presented by Craig Gunderson, the Soybean Industry Endowed Professor in Agricultural Strategy at the University of Illinois. The lecture, sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will take place at 2:30 p.m. April 7 in the Faculty and Staff Club Room at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Comments on other issues: Efforts to prosecute agro-forestry – Jakarta Post

Comments on other issues: Efforts to prosecute agro-forestry
Jakarta Post
The use of the term “agroforestry” in the article is not in accordance with common usage internationally. Here, it seems to refer to monocultural oil palm plantations and presumably stems from a simplistic conflation of “agriculture” and “forestry

Why shade-grown coffee is good for birds and farmers – The Conversation US

Why shade-grown coffee is good for birds and farmers
The Conversation US
Agroforestry – a technique that combines crops with a mixture of trees and shrubs – is particularly important for biodiversity conservation. Shade coffee farming, where the crop is grown under a tree canopy, is one of the most biodiversity-friendly

Alternatives Voices: Permaculture Magazine in the USA – Permaculture Magazine


Permaculture Magazine

Alternatives Voices: Permaculture Magazine in the USA
Permaculture Magazine
Permaculture's editor, Maddy Harland is one of the keynote speakers at Permaculture Voices 2015. Our editor will be speaking to the conference based in San Diego, USA on Friday 6th March, exploring how to design successful enterprises for people and

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Danone & Mars, Incorporated, to be Founding Investors Behind Livelihoods … – 3BL Media (press release)

Danone & Mars, Incorporated, to be Founding Investors Behind Livelihoods
3BL Media (press release)
This carbon fund has invested in 7 projects dedicated to mangrove restoration, rural energy, and agroforestry. To date, the fund has planted 130 million trees that will sequester 8 million tons of CO2 and improve the lives of thousands of rural

Steve Gliessman Keynote Speaker | Rose Cohen Speaker | USAID Symposium

CAN Board president Steve Gliessman (Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, UCSC) and CAN Executive Director Roseann Cohen head to Washington, D.C. to attend “Design for Resilience in Smallholder Farming Systems: Symposium and Consultation on Agroecological Principles, Design and Practice.” As keynote speaker, Steve will lay the foundation for agroecological principles and design, providing the foundation for the two days of discussion.

Rose will present a case study of the obstacles to adoption of agroecological principles, using CAN’s experiences in overcoming most of the obstacles faced by changing hunger and poverty through agroecology. Focusing on CAN’s work in rural communities in Central America and Mexico, Rose will present examples of how to work with communities to engage them successfully in agroecological transformation.

Rose is speaking in the session, “Effective Adoption of Agroecological Principles.” The purpose of this session is to offer the opportunity to discuss constraints to wider adoption and diffusion of agroecological practices, especially among smallholders living in marginal areas, and the technical and institutional solutions to overcome them.

The audience for this symposium is staff members from USAID and Private Voluntary Organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, World Vision, ACDI/VOCA, and others who are part of USAID’s Food for Peace Program.

Contrasting decay rates of freshwater bivalves’ shells: Aquatic versus terrestrial habitats

Publication date: March 2015
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters, Volume 51
Author(s): M.I. Ilarri , A.T. Souza , R. Sousa
Freshwater flow regimes are particularly vulnerable to global climate change with changes to the volume and regime of water contributing to global declines in freshwater biodiversity. Droughts or floods can cause massive mortalities of freshwater bivalves, facilitating the accumulation of shells in the aquatic but also in adjacent terrestrial habitats. In order to fully understand the long term impact of these massive mortality events, it is important to assess how bivalve shells persist in the environment. Given that, the present study aimed at studying the shell decays of four different bivalve species ( Anodonta anatina , Corbicula fluminea , Potomida littoralis and Unio delphinus ) in aquatic (i.e. river) versus terrestrial (i.e. sand soil) habitats. Shell decay rates were significantly different among species and habitats. In the aquatic habitat the shell decay rates varied among species, with the native species A . anatina , which have the largest and thinnest shell, showing the highest decay rate. Alternatively, in the terrestrial habitat the shell decay rates were more even among species and not related to a particular shell feature or morphology, with the native U . delphinus showing the fastest decay. The shell decay rates were 6 to 12 times higher in aquatic than in the terrestrial habitat. These results suggest that bivalve shells can persist for long periods of time on both habitats (but mainly in terrestrial), which may perhaps trigger significant changes on the ecosystem structure and functioning.

The Dirt on Dirt: 5 Things You Should Know About Soil – National Geographic


National Geographic

The Dirt on Dirt: 5 Things You Should Know About Soil
National Geographic
Inca terracing practices and agroforestry on the Polynesian island of Tikopia are on the short list of exceptions. 3. Good soil usage helps prevent droughts. During recent droughts in the western U.S., farmers who used no-till practices—for example

Suburban Permaculture Transforms Neighborhoods – Mother Earth News


Mother Earth News

Suburban Permaculture Transforms Neighborhoods
Mother Earth News
Over the years, well over a thousand people have visited – green bike tours, permaculture classes, school groups, eco bike tours, curious neighbors, well known writers and media. Both the mayor and city manager think the place is great. This quarter

Thankful for bounty, motivated for change

At my Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, we’ll be talking about what we’re thankful for. I'm very thankful to live in the resource-rich state of California, the topmost producer of fruits and vegetables in the country. And I'm thankful for the hard, often dangerous work that thousands of farmworkers do across the state to help bring nature’s bounty to our table. 

I'm also thankful for the growing awareness that food choices matter. People in California — and across the country — are beginning to see that choosing food grown without chemical pesticides is not only healthier for their own families, but can help protect the health of farmers and farmworkers, families in rural communities and children everywhere. This is real and exciting progress.

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Food and forests: Bolivia’s balancing act – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)


Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

Food and forests: Bolivia's balancing act
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
This research was carried out as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and was supported in part by NORAD, AusAID, DFID, the European Commission, the Department for …

Scaling Up Ecological Cultivation: An Interview with Richard Charity of … – The Daily Meal


The Daily Meal

Scaling Up Ecological Cultivation: An Interview with Richard Charity of
The Daily Meal
At Fazenda da Toca, we're developing sound soil and water usage methods and new agroforestry biotechnologies to enable the regeneration of surrounding nature- all while making the best organic products. FT: What led to the conversion of Fazenda da …

AFOLU sets new eligibility criteria for agri-climate bonds – FTSE Global Markets

AFOLU sets new eligibility criteria for agri-climate bonds
FTSE Global Markets
The committee of thirteen international experts includes members from USAID-Asia LEAF, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y EnseÑanza (CATIE), Verified Carbon Standard, Centre for Climate Risk and …

and more »

CAN Makes 1st Annual Good Food Org Guide

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN,


The 1st Annual Good Food Org Guide, developed by The James Beard Foundation and Food Tank, highlights non-profit organizations that are “… doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only nonprofit, scholarly, and municipal initiatives have been selected in order to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service. More than 400 U.S.-based groups are cultivating a better food system. The list was determined by distinguished experts, including past recipients of the James Beard Leadership Award and food and agriculture leaders.” The issues the groups address include: childhood obesity, malnourishment, and physical inactivity; food waste; and consumer education on healthy, nutritious food choices. Through their work they create networks of social entrepreneurs; protect food and restaurant workers; highlight solutions for restoring the health of people and the planet; work with indigenous communities to preserve traditions, culture, and biodiversity; inspire and educate individuals to cook more of their own food; and protect public health, human health, and the environment. CAN is honored to be included among this year’s honorees.


Explaining the “Hungry Farmer Paradox”

Most of the world’s food insecure people live in marginal rural environments. A recent study with coffee producers in northern Nicaragua’s highlands helps explain this “hungry farmer paradox.” These small-scale farmers experienced an average of three months of seasonal hunger over the year studied. Although cash income helped alleviate food scarcity, households that produced more subsistence crops, especially corn and tree fruits, reported still shorter periods of food scarcity. Meanwhile, farmers that used several commonly promoted environmentally friendly farming practices reported no discernible impacts on seasonal hunger.

In an article published in Global Environmental Change, Santa Clara University researchers, including Chris Bacon (Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences), Bill Sundstrom (Department of Economics), and two recently graduated Environmental Studies and Sciences students Ian Dougherty (now with the United Farm Workers Foundation) and Rica Santos (now with the National Council for Science and the Environment), concur with previous studies finding that several factors influence farmer food insecurity, including: (1) annual cycles of precipitation and rising maize prices during the lean months; (2) inter annual droughts and periodic storms; and (3) the long-term inability of coffee harvests and prices to provide sufficient income.

This work identifies the need for balancing coffee production with food production and improving exchange systems to protect farmers from adverse seasonal price fluctuations. It also considers a participatory initiative that uses fair trade cooperatives to increase rural food access through the re-localization of food distribution networks, sustainable agriculture training, and improved food storage. Although crop loss from coffee leaf rust contributes an additional challenge, these and other integrated strategies hold the potential to reduce threats to food security, livelihoods, and biodiversity.

Chris Bacon and Ernesto Mendez are CAN affiliate researchers; Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez is the CAN project manager for the Las Segovias project

* Bacon, C. M., Sundstrom, W. A., Flores Gómez, M. E., Ernesto Méndez, V., Santos, R., Goldoftas, B., & Dougherty, I. (2014). Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua’s corn and coffee markets. Global Environmental Change, 25 (2014) 133–149

Author Affiliations

Christopher M. Bacon, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

William A. Sundstrom, Department of Economics, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053, USA

 María Eugenia Flores Gómez, Community Agroecology Network, 595 Franklin Street, Santa Clara, CA 95050, USA

 Ernesto Méndez, Environmental Program and Plant and Soil Science Department, University of Vermont,
The Bittersweet – 153 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05401, USA

 Rica Santos, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

 Barbara Goldoftas, International Development, Community, & Environment Department, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610, USA

 Ian Dougherty, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

Do installed stream logjams change benthic community structure?

Publication date: November 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters, Volume 49
Author(s): Todd Wellnitz , Se Yeon Kim , Eric Merten
Installed logjams constructed of wood are commonly used in stream restoration projects to provide habitat for lotic organisms. Macroinvertebrate densities are known to increase on logjam surfaces; however, less is known about the influence logjams have on benthic organisms inhabiting the surrounding streambed. To examine this, we conducted a before-after-control-impact (BACI) study in a stream in northern Minnesota, USA, to determine how an installed logjam affected the richness and abundance of three insect orders commonly used in biotic indices, the Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (i.e., EPT taxa). A spanning logjam composed of three logs bound together was installed perpendicular to stream flow at the impact site. Initial sampling of the impact site and an upstream control found no differences among the ETP taxa. A year after installation, the logjam accumulated woody debris and altered flow so that near-bed current at the impact site was faster and more heterogeneous than at the control site. Although the richness and abundance of the macroinvertebrate community as a whole did not differ between sites after one year, it did for the Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera at the impact site. By contrast, Trichoptera richness and abundance did not change. Our results lend support to the hypothesis that installed logjams may enhance stream habitat not only by providing colonization surfaces for macroinverbrates, but also by altering the benthic environment of the surrounding habitat.

Bad call, USDA

Very disappointing news came out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday. The agency announced it is greenlighting Dow Agroscience's new genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans that are designed to withstand repeated applications of 2,4-D — an antiquated, dangerous herbicide.

PAN scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman called the decision "a slap in the face" to the thousands of farmers who have expressed concerns about crop damage, economic losses and health risks associated with the dramatically increased use of 2,4-D that will accompany Dow's new crops. USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production will increase between 500% and 1,400% by 2020.

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Touring organic ‘taters

Last Saturday morning, I started my day ushering traffic down a dirt road into a potato field. The Toxic Taters Coalition was hosting a field day at Larry Heitkamp’s Yellow Rose Organic Farm outside of Sebeka, MN. About twenty people gathered from surrounding counties to educate themselves about organic potato production, connect with local farmers and learn more about Toxic Taters.

Why tour an organic potato farm? Although a single, massive company — RD Offutt Company, or RDO — plants tens of thousands of acres of potatoes each year in north central Minnesota, it’s certainly not the only potato producer in the region. Local residents who live near RDO potato fields launched the Toxic Taters campaign because they know that RDO’s model of potato production isn’t the only way. Our Coalition wanted to learn more about sustainable potato production — and who better to learn from than a local farmer who is hard at work implementing organic, ecosystem-based practices on his farm?

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Pressure builds for action on chlorpyrifos

Thousands of community members and children's health advocates participated in our "week of action" last week, ramping up the pressure on California officials to take action on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Our message? It's high time for the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to provide leadership to protect children from this chemical that scientists link to IQ drops and increased risk of ADHD and autism. Thank you for helping to make the week of action successful!

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Conservation status of the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera in Portugal

Publication date: Available online 27 August 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters
Author(s): Ronaldo Sousa , Ângela Amorim , Elsa Froufe , Simone Varandas , Amílcar Teixeira , Manuel Lopes-Lima
Based on new information, the current conservation status of the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758) in Portugal is revised. Between 2010 and 2013 surveys were conducted in eight different rivers to assess distribution, abundance, size-frequency and preferential habitat of this species. Rivers Neiva, Cávado and Terva presented very low abundances (in the Cávado no specimens were found) and showed acute signs of ageing, calling into question the future survival of these populations. Although abundances were low in Rivers Beça, Paiva and Mente, juveniles were present and populations may improve their conservation status in the future, if appropriate management measures are applied. Rivers Rabaçal and Tuela presented the highest abundances of adults and juveniles and these two rivers have the highest potential for the conservation of freshwater pearl mussels in Portugal. However, these two populations have suffered severe declines in several stretches due to the construction of dams in recent years. Given that the Portuguese pearl mussel populations are at the southern range of the species distribution, their conservation should be a priority. This current description of the conservation status of M. margaritifera in Portugal can be used as a reference, and guide future research and management initiatives to better conserve this species.

Empty native and invasive bivalve shells as benthic habitat modifiers in a large river

Publication date: Available online 21 July 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters
Author(s): E. Bódis , B. Tóth , J. Szekeres , P. Borza , R. Sousa
Bivalves are remarkable ecosystem engineers and their long-lasting shells may provide important physical structures for benthic organisms. In the last decades the Danube River has experienced great changes in the bivalve fauna, i.e. several native species have been declining and several invasive species have been introduced. The invasive Corbicula fluminea and Sinanodonta woodiana are now widespread and produce large amounts of shells. In this study, we investigated empty shells of native ( Anodonta anatina , Unio tumidus ) and invasive ( C. fluminea , S. woodiana ) bivalves (including their mixtures) as benthic substrates and compared them to clay granules (control), which mimics the natural hard substrates in the Danube River (Hungary). Macroinvertebrate colonization was compared between i) empty shells and control substrate; ii) different bivalve species (native and invasive) and iii) three scenarios (before invasion, and short and long time after invasion) by using a mix of empty shells (native, native plus invasive, and invasive species). In comparison to control treatments the empty shells facilitated the presence of amphipods, caddis larvae and isopods, which contributed to a shift in the trophic structure by decreasing the proportion of gathering collectors while increasing the presence of shredders and predators. Several shell traits such as size, outer-shell surface roughness, hardness, thickness, 3D shape and chemical composition may be important attributes in the habitat modifying effects; however, this study could not disentangle which contribute most for the differences found. Given the capability of invasive C. fluminea and S. woodiana to accumulate large amounts of empty shells on several sites of the Danube, its habitat modifying effects can be particularly important, especially on the macroinvertebrate community structure. Moreover, these effects may increase in near future due to the predicted more frequent and severe extreme climatic conditions, which have been responsible for massive mortalities in both species.

Environmental factors associated with heterotrophic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in water, sediment, and riparian soil of Suquía River

Publication date: Available online 9 July 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters
Author(s): Merlo Carolina , Reyna Luciana , Abril Adriana , Amé María Valeria , Genti-Raimondi Susana
In this study we investigated the environmental factors associated with biological nitrogen (N) fixation (BNF) in water, sediments, and riparian soil along a polluted river (Suquía River of Córdoba, Argentina). Here, we screened heterotrophic nitrogen-fixing bacteria and assessed the magnitude of BNF at different sites of Suquía River. To this aim, samples of the three habitats (riparian soil, water, and sediment) were collected from five polluted sites and one reference site during low and high flow water periods. In all samples the abundance of N-fixing bacteria was evaluated in solid nitrogen-free medium and the biological N fixation was measured by nitrogenase (Nase) enzyme activity using the acetylene reduction method. To identify the heterotrophic N-fixing taxa DNA of nine cultures isolated from sites with different Nase enzyme activity was extracted and the 16S rRNA gene was amplified and sequenced. In addition, the ammonia and organic carbon (C) content in all samples, the dissolved O 2 concentration in water, and the water content in riparian soil were measured. The N-fixing bacteria were detected in all study sites and habitats. The abundance of them correlated significantly with organic C content in sediment, and with water and organic C contents in riparian soil, whereas in water a negative correlation with dissolved O 2 was observed. In addition, the water and sediment Nase enzyme activity varied among sites during low flow period presenting significant correlation with ammonia and organic C contents in sediment. The identified taxonomic groups in the Suquía River are related to Alphaproteobacteria , Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria , and Actinobacteria although the N-fixing capacity of them was not established. Altogether these findings demonstrate that BNF occurs in all habitats of Suquía River, being in sediments influenced mainly by the higher organic C present in the most polluted sites, while in riparian soil the organic C and water contents were the major abiotic factors that control the abundance of N fixing bacteria. In Suquía River water the density of N fixing bacteria were associated with low dissolved O 2 concentration. These data suggest that the BNF in Suquía River is a complex process that depends on numerous environmental factors that act together.

OPINION: Permaculture can increase financial and urban resilience – Newcastle Herald

OPINION: Permaculture can increase financial and urban resilience
Newcastle Herald
Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren wrote the book Permaculture One in the '70s, when oil scarcities prompted an environmental activist response. Permaculture has been embraced by thousands of communities worldwide, and it describes a …

Your (not so) “bee-friendly” plants

Bee-harming pesticides in our lavender and daisies? In the same week that an international body of scientists released a comprehensive global assessment of the harms of pesticides to bees, a new report shows that these very same pesticides are found in many of our backyard plants — at levels of concern — that are meant to support pollinators.

The report shows that 51% of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart) in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key driver of declining bee populations. Concerning levels of the pesticides were found in places like California’s San Francisco Bay Area and in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. In some cases, multiple neonics were found in the same plant, in the leaves, stalks or flowers.

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Action Needed to Safeguard Genetic Diversity of the World’s Forests – AllAfrica.com

Action Needed to Safeguard Genetic Diversity of the World's Forests
AllAfrica.com
Additionally, the inclusion of diverse tree varieties in agroforestry systems can reduce farmers' production risks and provide nutrients to consumers all year round, the report stressed. Eight thousand forest species used, one-third actively managed

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Better information flows needed for REDD+ monitoring, report says – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Better information flows needed for REDD+ monitoring, report says
Thomson Reuters Foundation
This research was carried out as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and was supported in part by NORAD, AusAID, DFID, the European Commission, the Department for …

The Challenges of Measuring Food Security and Sovereignty in the Yucatán Peninsula | New Article Published


Development in Practice
Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014

Hector Calix de Dios, Heather Putnam, Santos Alvarado Dzul, Wendy Godek, Susanne Kissmann, Jean Luckson Pierre & Steve Gliessman (2014) The challenges of measuring food security and sovereignty in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Abstract:

In a study of food security and sovereignty (FSS) in 22 indigenous Mayan communities in Yucatán State, Mexico, a participatory action research (PAR) methodology was combined with an analytical framework comprised of 10 FSS indicators to measure food security in the study area and identify strengths and weaknesses of the analytical framework. While some of the FSS indicators were approaching satisfactory, the majority were only partially satisfied, and food self-sufficiency was for the most part unsatisfactory. It was also found that food security indicators are relatively easier to measure, while sovereignty indicators present challenges in terms of defining progress.

Read the article.

 

Action needed to safeguard genetic diversity of the world’s forests – EIN News (press release)

Action needed to safeguard genetic diversity of the world's forests
EIN News (press release)
Additionally, the inclusion of diverse tree varieties in agroforestry systems can reduce farmers' production risks and provide nutrients to consumers all year round, the report stressed. Eight thousand forest species used, one-third actively managed

and more »

US govt puts financial muscle behind REDD+ forest carbon conservation projects – Mongabay.com

US govt puts financial muscle behind REDD+ forest carbon conservation projects
Mongabay.com
… of State John Kerry said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will lend up to $133.8 million to the Althelia Climate Fund for REDD+ carbon conservation projects and "sustainable land use" initiatives like ecotourism and agroforestry.
US Increases Support to Conserve Forests, Ease Climate Change AllAfrica.com


US Government, Althelia Climate Fund Mobilize $133.8 Million for Forest The FINANCIAL

all 7 news articles »

US to back loans for international forest preservation – The Hill (blog)

US to back loans for international forest preservation
The Hill (blog)
Businesses involved in activities such as ecotourism and agroforestry receive commercial loans, which would allow them to expand. USAID hopes this will discourage deforestation. These companies can also receive credits through a voluntary carbon credit …
US Government, Althelia Climate Fund Mobilize $133.8 Million for Forest AllAfrica.com



all 5 news articles »

Better information flows needed for REDD+ monitoring, report says – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

Better information flows needed for REDD+ monitoring, report says
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
This research was carried out as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and was supported in part by NORAD, AusAID, DFID, the European Commission, the Department for …

Strategic bolaina timber production could improve livelihoods – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Strategic bolaina timber production could improve livelihoods
Thomson Reuters Foundation
This research is carried out by CIFOR as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by the United States Agency for International Development. We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant …

Strategic bolaina timber production could improve livelihoods – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

Strategic bolaina timber production could improve livelihoods
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
… this article, contact Peter Cronkleton at p.cronkleton@cgiar.org. This research is carried out by CIFOR as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by the United States Agency for International Development.

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Permaculture in Practice: Ramifications of the no-hens rule – Santa Fe New Mexican.com

Permaculture in Practice: Ramifications of the no-hens rule
Santa Fe New Mexican.com
Not a moment too soon came her untimely death. Amy Hetager was an inspiration to thousands with her hugely popular Kitchen and Coop Tours in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. At 40, the brilliant activist died with family and friends a mere week before Judge …

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Humic Substances: the answer to improved mayfly survivorship in acidic environments?

Publication date: Available online 15 May 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters
Author(s): Aleicia Holland , Leo J. Duivenvoorden , Susan H.W. Kinnear
Acidification of freshwaters via anthropogenic means is a global problem. Decreases in pH in these systems have devastating effects on macroinvertebrate fauna especially Ephemeropterans. However, fauna in naturally acidic waters with high concentrations of humic substances (HS) appear to be less affected by acidification. This study investigated the ability of HS to decrease toxicity of low pH to mayflies ( Atalophlebia spp.) in both hard and soft water environments. Laboratory trialling with both hard and soft water was conducted to represent water chemistries commonly associated with anthropogenic and naturally acidic freshwaters. Mayflies were exposed to decreases in pH between 7 (control) and 3.5 in the presence of 0, 10 and 20 mg/L HS (Aldrich humic acid). HS increased mayfly survival by up to 45% in soft water and up to 39% in hard water. HS were also shown to increase 96 hour LC 50 values in both soft (4.29, 0 mg/L; 3.99, 10 mg/L and 3.97, 20 mg/L) and hard water (4.58, 0 mg/L; 4.22, 10 mg/L and 4.07, 20 mg/L). The results of this study are important in showing that HS can influence the toxicity of low pH environments; thus providing insight into why contrasting effects on biota are recorded from naturally acidic compared with anthropogenically-acidified environments

Mariam Raqib brings the gift of trees to Afghanistan – Christian Science Monitor


Christian Science Monitor

Mariam Raqib brings the gift of trees to Afghanistan
Christian Science Monitor
That's why Samsortya doesn't just hand out saplings, it teaches people tree nursery and agro-forestry skills, Raqib says. The saplings and seeds come from Samsortya's fundraising efforts here in the United States. A donation of $15 provides a family

News Update: Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project


Last year CAN’s partner organization in San Ramón, the UCA San Ramón, worked with women in the eight coffee cooperatives participating in our Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project there to collect traditional and new recipes that take advantage of the rich variety of fruits and vegetables available locally in home gardens and coffee shade trees being promoted by the project. The result was the Food Security and Sovereignty Cookbook and Guide (the Guide), complete with recipes and nutrition guidelines. Earlier this year CAN was ecstatic to receive a donation of 150 printed copies of the Guide from the group of community volunteers working with the Dignity Health Marian Regional Medical Center (Dignity Health) in Santa Maria, California.

This month the UCA San Ramón organized a workshop with the women beneficiaries of the project to reflect on the process of developing the guide and distribute copies to the women. Together, the women at the workshop developed a set of reflections and commitments around the usage of the Guide:

  • Take care of the Guide in their homes
  • Apply recipes in the Guide in their daily family food preparation.
  • Have cooking days with their families to share the knowledge with them.
  • Hold more workshops to deepen knowledge around the topic of good nutrition presented in the Guide.
  • Utilize as much as possible the wide variety of vegetables and fruits available now in the gardens and fruit trees to prepare the recipes.
  • Assure the availability of a diverse array of food year round by planting gardens year round and planting new vegetables and plants that are not yet grown in the gardens.
  • Use the parts of the plants that usually go to waste but are useful in the recipes (like beet greens and other greens).
  • Have the youth leaders in each cooperative lead more activities to promote continued application of the knowledge and recipes in the Guide in each cooperative.  

 

 

To curb Indonesian deforestation, public pressure required, research suggests – Thomson Reuters Foundation

To curb Indonesian deforestation, public pressure required, research suggests
Thomson Reuters Foundation
… CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and was supported by NORAD, AusAID, DFID, the European Commission, the Department for International Development Cooperation of Finland, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Syngenta’s next target: Jackson County, Oregon

Last week, Swiss-based pesticide corporation Syngenta dumped tens of thousands of dollars into a county election in Southern Oregon. Sound familiar? It should. Still reeling from their recent defeat in Kaua'i, Syngenta and the rest of the "Big 6" don’t want to lose any more fights around pesticides and GMOs.

But Oregononians are holding their ground. Led by a group of farmers dubbed Our Family Farms Coalition, these residents put an initiative on the ballot that would restrict the planting of genetically engineered crops. The vote will be on May 20.

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Global study: REDD+ initiatives see challenges — and opportunities – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)

Global study: REDD+ initiatives see challenges — and opportunities
Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research (blog)
This research was carried out as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and was supported in part by NORAD, AusAID, DFID, the European Commission, the Department for …

and more »