Sunday, 27 December 2020

RIP Barry Holstun Lopez


"Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion."

Barry Lopez

I heard yesterday evening via Robert MacFarlane that the author Barry Lopez had died on Christmas Day at his house in Oregon: somewhere he and his wife were renting after the house he had lived in for decades had been affected by wildfires earlier in the year, which had also tragically destroyed a building containing an archive of his writing and documents.

I have blogged about Barry's writing numerous times here, and on my other blogs.

I bought his 'Arctic Dreams' book back in early 1987, from the Blackwells bookshop at Hull University while I was completing my PGCE. 

I've read it numerous times since, and also mined it for quotes and thoughts on the importance of story telling, as I did with his other books. His last published work was the masterful 'Horizon', which looked back over his life, and his travels against the backdrop of impending climate chaos.

From a review of the book:

“It treats the distant snowy world of the Arctic as a place that exists not only in the mathematics of geography, but also in the terra incognita of our imaginations.” 
Michiko Kakutani

An appreciation was printed in the New York Times today.

"If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive." 

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Fens Biosphere Project


I am currently putting together an updated unit on the Fenland landscape.

Elements of this will be used in 2021.

This image here is of the 'famous' leaning tree in Ely which I've photographed many times over the years.

The Fens Biosphere project has received funding to support its work and has a new website. It aims to have the Fens declared as a biosphere.

A Biosphere is a special status awarded by UNESCO to a unique and valuable landscape. Biospheres connect people, economies and nature to create a secure future we can all look forward to. They are about developing new ways of living, exploring new ideas and working together.

The key characteristics of the area are suggested below:

The geographical boundaries of the Fens Biosphere have been built around the following key aspects of this landscape:

The peat soils, the ‘black gold’ of the Fens. Within the proposed boundary the dominant soil type is peat, intermixed with silt soils. Peat has become a scarce resource due to ongoing peat loss through shrinkage and fen blows caused largely by intense drainage and farming regimes; there is an urgent need to preserve remaining peat soils.

An important food-producing area dominated by Grade 1 and grade 2 soils; farming and food production are at the beating heart of the Fens. There is a need to ensure farming and the food sector remains vital to the local economy.

Extensive ditch and waterways network: Ditches, the ‘upside-down hedgerows’ of the Fens are renowned for their high biodiversity value, the area being a stronghold for many rare species such as spined loach and water voles.

Internationally important lowland wetland habitats (core areas on map), including Nene Washes, Ouse Washes, Wicken Fen and Holme Fen.

Multiple wetland vision projects, such as the Wildlife Trust’s Great Fen Vision, the National Trust’s Wicken Fen Vision and the expanding RSPB Ouse Fen reedbeds.

Several partnership-led initiatives for landscape-scale conservation in the arable landscape, including the Ely Nature-Friendly Farming Zone and Thorney Nature-Friendly Farming Zone.

Big urban populations acting as ‘gateways’ to the more rural Fens landscape: Cambridge; Peterborough; Wisbech

Historic market towns / small cities in the heart of the area: Ely; March; Chatteris; Whittlesey and Fen Edge towns that will feature in the transition zone such as St Ives, Soham, Ramsey and Downham Market. 

Cutting-edge R&D, digital industries and innovative high-tech and agri-tech businesses – some of which also operate in the Fens – in Cambridge, the internationally recognised centre of academic research, and the Cambridge – Peterborough enterprise zone. 

The number of academic and businesses dealing with sustainability, climate change and agri-tech developments is vast and still growing.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

South Georgia - major landscape change case study

South Georgia at risk... 

I've been following this story for the last few months. The huge iceberg called A68a which broke off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017 has been drifting northwards since then. 

It is now being pushed by the Antarctic circumpolar current and is on a collision course with South Georgia. This would cause environmental catastrophe for the ecosystems, including a massive penguin colony and other activities including scientific work.

Full details are here in this excellent Reuters Graphic website resource, which includes some great images naturally. Notice the inclusion of Manhattan for scale on the image above. This is not going to be pushed out of the way...

If the berg lodges at the island’s flank, it could remain a fixture for up to 10 years before the ice melts or breaks away. That could block some of the island’s 2 million penguins – including King Penguins, Gentoos, Macaronis and Chinstraps – from reaching the waters to feed their young. The melting freshwater could also make the waters inhospitable for phytoplankton and other sea creatures that are crucial parts of the food chain.

A reminder that the resources that I wrote for the South Georgia Heritage Trust are now here, and can be used free of charge. Give them a go and let me know how you get on.

Image copyright:

The iceberg is only around 50km away from South Georgia and collision seems inevitable, with the iceberg grounding itself close to the island and sitting there for a decade or more....

Post settings Labels South Georgia,South Georgia Heritage Trust,Iceberg A68a, No matching suggestions Published on 12/12/2020 15:00 Permalink Location Options Post: EditPost published