Gold has been a blessing and a curse for Peru for centuries. In the 16th century, one of the first Spanish explorers to arrive, Francisco Pizarro, was so enthralled by the mineral riches that he took the Inca king hostage.

The Largest National Manatee Refuge Had to Shut Down Because So Many Showed Up!


The manatee is an icon in Florida, and for good reason. Each winter, hundreds of manatees seek out warm-water refuges across the state to escape the frigid Gulf of Mexico. This year was an especially big year for the Three Sisters Spring, located in the heart of Crystal River, Florida, where manatee enthusiasts saw a rush of more than 300 manatees enjoying the warm spring!

The park, which typically sees an average of sixty-five manatees on a winter’s day, had to close down in an effort to protect the gentle creatures when they arrived in record-breaking numbers. Although at first glance this may seem like a good thing, the large gathering of manatees at Three Sisters Spring may in fact be due to the decline of other warm-water refuges in the state.

More and more, people are wising up to the damage we’ve done to the earth and working hard at fixing it. I think this quote by Aldo Leopold sums it up well:

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

With them go all you can to conserve and promote our habitat. Your future depends on this.

A new study has revealed that extinction rates for plants and animals are currently 1,000 times higher than they were before humans arrived. The rate is so high, in fact, that the planet hasn’t seen anything like it since the dinosaurs were wiped out in a mass extinction event 65 million years ago. If we don’t take measures to address the situation, the lead scientist for the project, biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University, says that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction.

Maddy experiments with using the vertical as well as the horizontal to grow small pumpkins and squash up, stacking more plants in garden beds.

Some years ago I visited Rebecca Hosking and Tim Green on the farm and saw their raised bed veggie garden. Tim had woven hazel domes over the beds to grow squashes upwards rather than have them trailing on the ground.

There are definite advantages to this idea. Firstly, the young squashes have a better chance of getting away as they climb a structure away from slugs and snails. You can also stack more plants if you use vertical as well as horizontal space. Useful in a smaller garden. When the plants crop, the squashes are suspended above the ground and less vulnerable to slugs.

Last year one of my squashes climbed up a sweetcorn in perfect Native American style. So this year I wanted to work with this idea. I thought of weaving hazel domes like Tim's but I went for a simpler, quicker design. The Sustainability Centre had fenced a pond with stock wire (to stop our young visitors from falling in) and had some of a roll left over. Not really enough to be useful for fencing. I asked 'The Management' if I might have it and was kindly given permission to take it away.

My squash and mini pumpkin patch was to be on an area I had mulched with cardboard and black plastic. First of all I removed the plastic and checked how the bindweed was doing. I also inadvertently disturbed some very valuable visitors.

Environmentalists sound alarm over plans to construct 5,300km route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to cut transport costs

Chinese premier Li Keqiang is to push controversial plans for a railway through the Amazon rainforest during a visit to South America next week, despite concerns about the possible impact on the environment and on indigenous tribes.

Currently just a line on a map, the proposed 5,300km route in Brazil and Peru would reduce the transport costs for oil, iron ore, soya beans and other commodities, but cut through some of the world’s most biodiverse forest.

The six-year plan is the latest in a series of ambitious Chinese infrastructure projects in Latin America, which also include a canal through Nicaragua and a railway across Colombia. The trans-Amazonian railway has high-level backing. Last year, President Xi Jinping signed a memorandum on the project with his counterparts in Brazil and Peru. Next week, during his four-nation tour of the region starting on Sunday, Li will, according to state-run Chinese media, suggest a feasibility study.

When considering the geological age of the earth, five years wouldn’t even equate to a drop of water in the sea of time. Nevertheless, now that we’ve passed the five year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it’s clear that, over the course of just five years, one human-made catastrophe can severely alter our planet’s path. Consider this:

Brazil plans to ‘nationalise’ rainforest in pioneering plan to protect Amazon

The proposed legislation would recognise the sovereignty of Brazil over the Amazon’s natural resources and set up a national Amazonian policy council with the aim of enshrining environmental protection and regulating economic activities in the rainforest.

Should the law be passed, companies wanting to operate in the area would require approval from the new state entity in return for shares of the proceeds – in a similar way to that which oil exploration concessions are granted through state-controlled company Petrobras in return for royalties.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


There's a point in every surf movie when the wandering heroes pile into a Land Rover and bounce their way down a rocky cow path or jungle road that ends where the ocean begins – a surf idyll with steady waves and a handful of locals riding a break that would be lousy with boards back home. That scene plays out daily in Nicaragua's San Juan del Sur, a town so Pacifically mellow that its chief concern is hitching a ride out to one of the beaches tucked along the coast to the north and south.

Today's destination is Playa Hermosa, a few coves south of town. The half-hour journey entails several river crossings, many tons of obstructive livestock, and a $3 fee paid to the stern woman manning the gate. Riding shotgun is Rex Calderón, a 19-year-old San Juan native and the best junior surfer in Central America, who explains why the woman's husband is climbing onto our pickup. "Security," Rex tells me. "Sometimes banditos in through here. With pistolas."