THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two tourists jailed in New Zealand for theft of rare geckos - endangered species......

Tuatara, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellington...Image by PhillipC via Flickr
Two tourists jailed in New Zealand  for theft of rare geckos - endangered species...

Swiss stockbroker Thomas Price and Mexican chef Gustavo Toledo-Albarran have been jailed for 18 weeks over theft of rare geckos.

Two men who admitted their part in the theft of 16 rare jewelled geckos have both been sent to jail for 18 weeks.

Swiss stockbroker Thomas Price and Mexican chef Gustavo Toledo-Albarran were both sentenced in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon for taking and possessing protected wildlife.

Judge Raoul Neave told the pair to consider themselves lucky, as if he was able to impose a more serious penalty he would.

The maximum term for the offences is six months in jail. Judge Neave started at the maximum term but gave Price and Toledo-Albarran a reduction for their early guilty pleas. He told the court there is endangered wildlife all over the world and what the pair did was no different to the actions of ivory hunters.

The pair's co-accused Manfred Bachmann was jailed for 15 weeks earlier this month.

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

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Monday, March 22, 2010

The healing power of plants - How nature promotes a sense of wellbeing...

Seal of Texas A&M UniversityImage via Wikipedia

The healing power of plants - How nature promotes a sense of wellbeing.

First published at Qondia:

Are you seeking an inner calm? Then I suggest you could look no further from your garden. Really? Yes, really my friend. Research emanating from the Texas A&M University has reportedly found that green spaces have had a direct effect on our health. When patients rooms had a view of hospital gardens, they recovered faster fron surgery, had shorter hospital stays and needed fewer painkillers. The team also found that showing patients photos of nature reduced blood pressure in five minutes or less.

Nature stops us from worrying and obsessing over detail, according to environmental psychologist Clare Cooper Marcus. "Gardens create a state of diffuse awareness rather than focussed attention."

All our senses - sight, smell etc - are aroused, making us aware of our surroundings. This relaxes our mind and restores our ability to pay attention when we reurn to work.

So there is more to your garden than you realise. More than just green fingers.

Acknowledgements:  Peter Petterson  -  All rights reserved

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

NZ Government must force dairy farmers to comply with regulations to maintain waterways...

View of the Manawatu Gorge, Manawatu River, Ne...Image via Wikipedia
The New Zealand Minister of Agriculture has lashed out at the dirty dairy farm practices of some farmers in the country. Last november NZ was lambasted by the British Guardian  newspaper as having a 'green image' that wasn't warranted - rather unfairly I wrote at the time.

Minister John Carter discussed an audit report that showed totally unacceptable levels of effluent the industry here. The audit showed an increasing rate of dairy farmers failing to properly treat the toxic runoff from their land, which in turn poisons waterways and streams.

In the Guardian article the Manawatu River was named, rightly or wrongly, as one of the most polluted  rivers in the Western world.

The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord report showed that while farmers are doing reasonably well at keeping cows out of rivers and bridging their their waterways, the treatment of effluent had gone downhill.

The Government is talking the talk, but is it prepared to walk the walk and take action to prosecute those farmers who are not looking after waterways that belong to us all.

The Dairying and Clean Streams Act was signed in 2003 under a Labour-led government, between Fonterra, the ministers of Agriculture and the Environment and regional councils, and aims to minimise the negative impact of dairying on our waterways. It sets a target to keep dairy cattle out of waterways and manages the use of fertilisers and other nutrients.

The government needs to more than just issue infringement notices,  it needs to fine the culprits thousands of dollars  to hurt them in the pocket and force them  show some consideration and responsibility to the industry and our waterways.

Minister John Carter needs to stop the rhetoric and force some action, even if it means losing a few rural votes for the National Party at the next elections, because this government shows all the hallmarks of being a one term government.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dinosaurs believed to be ten million years older than first thought...

Dinosaurs believed to be ten million years older than first thought:

The oldest known dinosaur relative, Asilisaurus kongwe, appears with an early sail-backed dinosaur in an artist's rendering.

A new dinosaur relative found in Tanzania is the oldest known creature of its kind—a discovery that pushes back the origin of dinosaurs by at least ten million years, paleontologists say.

Dubbed Asilisaurus kongwe, the Labrador retriever-size creature was a silesaur, the closest relatives to true dinosaurs. The newfound animal lived 243 million years ago, during the middle Triassic period.

Since silesaurs and true dinosaurs diverged from a common ancestor, the two groups should have existed during the same time frame. But the oldest known true dinosaurs date back to just 230 million years ago.

Finding a silesaur that's ten million years older makes "a big difference," said study co-author Christian Sidor, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

Asilisaurus's age suggests that some early forms of dinosaurs must have also been plodding around in the middle Triassic. (See a prehistoric time line.)

"When people think about dinosaurs, we think about the extreme forms, the ones that have gone off in their ... own weird directions," such as Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex, said Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, who was not involved in the research.

"But they all came from a common ancestor, and fellows like Asilisaurus help us understand what that original dino state looked like."
Early Dinosaur Relative an Omnivore?

Parts of at least 12 Asilisaurus skeletons were found in 2007 in southern Tanzania's Ruhuhu Valley. With no intact specimen to study, Sidor and his team had to piece together a composite skeleton.

What emerged looked nothing like what paleontologists had imagined.

Instead of resembling the "typical hatchet-headed, blade-toothed meat-eaters," Asilisaurus was a light, slender-limbed animal with peg-like teeth and a small beak-like structure on its jaw, the University of Maryland's Holtz said.

The shape of the beak suggests Asilisaurus tore into tissue, which means the animal might have eaten plants—or both plants and meat, the researchers say.

Mysteriously, the long-tailed animal ran on all fours—even though the vast majority of early dinosaurs were two-legged carnivores, according to the study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature.

"It's making the picture a little bit murkier, because we have a possible herbivore and quadruped very close to the dinosaur lineage," said study co-author Sidor, who received funding for the research from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

Dinosaurs' World in Transition

In a way, Asilisaurus's discovery "is an elegant fulfillment of a prediction," said Christopher Brochu, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Iowa who also wasn't part of the study group.

That's because paleontologists know dinosaurs belong to the archosaurs. Within this group, dinosaur ancestors are divided into two main branches: a line that includes silesaurs and shares skeletal features with modern birds, and a line that has more in common with crocodilians.

Since a crocodilian dinosaur-ancestor from the middle Triassic had already been found, unearthing an animal like Asilisaurus was just a matter of time.

But the new research goes beyond that, Brochu said. "It's part of a larger, growing realization that the earliest archosaurs were far more diverse than we ever thought."

In addition to finding Asilisaurus, study leader Sidor and colleagues have already collected several other archosaur species from the Ruhuhu Valley—many more than in other archosaur hot spots.

It's unknown why the lush, wet valleys of prehistoric Tanzania produced so many strains of dinosaur relatives, paleontologists say.

Whatever the reason, "what we're seeing here is a picture of a world in transition," Brochu said. "It's really a fascinating time in the history of life."

Acknowledgements: NewsTrust: National Geographic.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Seaweek New Zealand - Fish for the future

Waiwera, Rodney, New ZealandImage by Sandy Austin via Flickr

NZAEE Seaweek 2010 - Fish for the Future! March 7-14, 2010

Seaweek: Fish for the Future - “Tiakina ngā tupuranga whakaheke”

Seaweek is an annual event run by the NZ Association for Environmental Education that allows New Zealanders to come together and, celebrate the sea. It provides a wide range of opportunities for people to learn about our fantastic marine environment and share their experiences of the sea.

Seaweek is about exciting and inspiring all New Zealanders to renew their connection with the sea. It’s not just for children or those involved with formal education – it’s a time for all of us to get to know our ocean, its habits, characteristics and inhabitants.

A series of themes has been developed for Seaweek over the next five years, starting with 2010 – Fish for the Future! Watch this website for updates on national, regional and local activities around this theme happening before, during and after Seaweek.

Listen out for NZ singer song-writer Nick Hohepa's music and his new single, "Mollusc Hunter" as part of Seaweek.

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Seaweek in New Zealand

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