Entries in environment (144)


Wildlife Photography – Kit Advice

Whilst achieving striking and effective wildlife photography is by no means utterly dependent on using quality equipment, it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances. So here is Frontier’s kit guide to the making your life as a budding wildlife photographer run that little bit more smoothly.

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A Brief Lesson in Wildlife Photography

Following this week's theme of wildlife photography, we will today be giving you a few pointers in achieving those memorable and amazing shots like we've been seeing from the wildlife photographer profiles earlier in the week.

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Wildlife Photography – Day 2

Continuing this week’s wonderful theme of wildlife photography, today we profile the work of another Frontier favourite: Roger Hooper.

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A Week of Wildlife Photography

This week’s blog theme is wildlife photography. For many, including several of us here at Frontier HQ, becoming a wildlife photographer would be a dream job. Anything that incorporates travel and wildlife is right up our street. So we thought we’d dedicate a week to this beautiful and inspirational art-form.

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Interview with Survival International – Fighting for the Rights of Tribal Peoples

As you may know, this week the Frontier blog is all about indigenous tribes around the world.Today’s final chapter is extra special; we have been lucky enough to speak to our friends at Survival International. Editorial Consultant, Joanna Eede, told us about the organisation and the important work they do to defend the rights of tribal peoples all over the planet.

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Yasuní and the True Value of the Environment

Attaching a financial value to the environment has long been talked of as a potential solution to our destructive exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources. The outcome of the Yasuní situation will be an excellent indicator as to the ability of this economic approach to make a significant difference to conservation.

Image @Geoff Gallice

Many will claim that it is impossible to attach a monetary value to the natural world. But the Ecuadorian government has done just that. When an enormous oil field worth approximately $7-10bn was discovered beneath the Yasuní National Park, an area considered by many scientists to be the most bio-diverse region on the planet, the country faced a dilemma; cash in on the oil reserve and let an area of unparalleled environmental significance be destroyed, or resist the cash incentives offered by the oil companies and conserve the area.

Ecuador is a country facing poverty on a large scale, with approximately 33% of the population below the national poverty line; an issue that could potentially be addressed with the correct usage of profits from the Yasuní oil extraction. With this issue to consider, at no point has this been a simple choice between money and morals for the government to make. However, the tough decision was made, with neither of these options being taken. Former oil minister Alberto Acosta, a European-trained economist heavily involved in government policy at the time, was placed in charge of the future of Yasuní. His well-documented decision was to challenge the rest of the world to donate half of the value of the oil ($3.6bn) over 13 years, or they would give the go-ahead for oil companies to begin extraction. Acosta said: "We will leave the oil in the ground and save the forest and the people if you, the world, make a financial contribution.”

This remarkable ultimatum has been backed by 78% of Ecuador’s population, an amazing percentage considering the fact that a significant number of them are suffering the effects of poverty. As well as the support of the public, the plan has been declared a ‘safe environmental investment’ by the UN, which has also agreed to administer the Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) Fund, established in August 2010. The plan is intended to avoid what has been dubbed the “oil curse”, a phenomenon that has seen oil rich, developing countries remain poor after having proceeded with the extraction of their oil reserves. The global community has until December 2011 to come up with $100m as a downpayment on the deal. On 14 August, The Observer claimed that $40m had been raised so far, with Chile, Peru, Spain, and Italy having made significant contributions.

The financial valuation of the environment is clearly a difficult thing to do. A recent attempt in the UK by The National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) aimed to put a price on Britain’s natural environment. Professor Ian Bateman, of the University of East Anglia, and one of the study's lead authors, said: "Why would we want to put economic values on environmental goods and services? It's very simple – it's to ensure their incorporation on equal footing with the market-priced goods which currently dominate decision-making." Clearly this is very different from the situation in Ecuador. But the principle is similar; Oil has a clearly defined value on the world market, whereas a value has never been attached to the land ruined by the extraction of this valuable commodity. Therefore, like in the case of the British countryside, this land has never been on equal footing with the market-priced oil, and has therefore never stood a chance of competing with it.

The situation in Ecuador has forced the government to put a price tag on this land. It is interesting that the price they chose is half that of the oil beneath it: a good illustration of what we consider most important and valuable. However, this price need not necessarily be an accurate valuation of the land (how do you value unique and pristine rainforest with more species per hectare than in any other place?) Rather, the important thing is that the Ecuadorian government receives adequate compensation, and more important still, that the area is protected.

You can donate and follow the latest news regarding the Yasuní situation online.

By Alex Prior


Frontier Style Special: A natural beauty 

Palm Oil

The beauty industry is a booming one and the boundless lengths some cosmetic companies go to in order to release the latest and most innovative products are all too well known. Animal testing is perhaps the most contentious activity but there are other effects that these products have on the environment.

Palm oil is perhaps one of the most popular components used in every-day products. From margarine, cereals, crisps, sweets and baked goods, to washing powders, soaps and cosmetics. But before you make a dash for the nearest packet of crisps, do not expect to see palm oil there, as it is usually classed as ‘vegetable oil’ in the ingredients section

But what is Palm oil?

Palm oil is obtained from the fruit (Palm) along with the kernel inside. Its trees are incredibly efficient, possessing numerous clusters of palm fruit which individually weigh 50 kg, an astonishing amount compared with other vegetable plants harvested for its oil. Furthermore each fruit contains 50 per cent oil. Due to its profitability companies have invested a substantial amount in harvesting palm oil which as a result effects the environment and surrounding wildlife.

Palm oil trees are grown in seventeen countries with 88 per cent of global palm oil production deriving from Malaysia and Indonesia alone. For anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit these exotic countries you may already be aware that both have incredible rainforests and are the only regions in which orang-utans inhabit. Their habitats however are being continually destroyed, with trees and tropical fauna cut down in order to make way for the harvesting of palm oil. Environmental campaigners claim that in 15 years 98% of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia will be gone. The destruction of the orang-utan living space creates further ecological issues; in 1990 over 315 000 orang-utans existed. Yet today sadly less than 50 000 are left. It is predicted that in 12 years the orang-utan population will be driven to extinction.

Olay is one company, amongst many others (including Bumble & Bumble, Elizabeth Arden, and Clinique) which features palm oil as an ingredient in their skincare range. A good example is their Total Effects Wake Up Wonder product that contains both Isopropyl Palmitate (a palm oil derivative) and Palmitic acid (saturated fatty acid found in fats and waxes including olive oil, palm oil and body lipids).   

Whilst many organisations understand the impact of harvesting palm oil on the environment, palm oil still remains in high demand. Experts say that it is virtually impossible to completely remove it from all produce as it is difficult to find an equally efficient and cheap alternative with a high yield of oil. To help solve some of the issues created from the production of palm oil the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2003. Since then RSPO have introduced environmental standards which places restrictions on the methods in which palm oil is harvested, ensuring that both locals are still able to live off the Palm oil plantations and a reduction in the number of forests being cut down. Companies can also obtain Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and Certified Sustainable Palm Kernal Oil (CSPKO) to show their support of this environmentally-friendly initiative.

For those who want to purchase cosmetics containing no palm oil, Lush use almond and olive oil as alternatives. Alternatively, if palm oil is essential in your daily skin care routine you can purchase certified palm oil based products from Body Shop, which has an ethical range of products sourced only from sustainable palm oil plantations.

Shark Liver Oil

Shark Liver oil is another common ingredient in cosmetics. It contains hydrocarbon pristane and squalene which are natural components of sebum secretions, and a precursor of cholesterol (i.e. the chemicals produced prior to cholestral in a chemical reaction). This oil is used as a non-absorbable (i.e. it cannot be absorbed by the skin) bland cosmetic base material.

Shark livers can represent 25 – 30 per cent of its total body weight, and as a result large quantities of squalene are found in shark liver oil in comparison to the small amounts found in olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, yeast and in various other foodstuffs. Considering the higher yield of squalene found in shark liver oil cosmetic companies have consequently featured this efficient animal-based ingredient in a range of their products. This has seen various shark species almost reach extinction, with many being listed as endangered.

Although the use of shark liver oil has seen a decline in recent years due to the 2008 campaign led by a charity called Oceana, which lobbied for the removal of animal squalene in skincare commodities, some products such as those in the L’Oreal’s Shu Uemura range, still contains squalene. Squalene is featured in 12 make up formulas including eight lipsticks in the aforementioned L’Oreal range.

In a world where the average person is bombarded with heavily photo-shopped images on a daily basis it is understandable that everyone wants to feel and look good. Whilst we are happy to fork out sums of money on products that promise to do just that, it seems that our environment pays a higher price.

By Nancy Bukasa


Now & Then - Environmental Issues - part two


Now & Then - Environmental Issues

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