Tag: Lancaster Environment Centre

Finding the fun in sustainability

The highest daily rainfall in 50 years didn’t stop members of the Lancaster Environment Centre’s new Sustainability Group putting their principles into practice

The launch of the Group, which aims to support staff and students at the Lancaster Environment Centre to put sustainability into action, started indoors with presentations about the environmental and social impact of American cannabis, Arctic oil and UK pensions. Some of the hardier attendees then went outdoors to the Lancaster University Ecohub to help Green Lancaster with their growing projects. This involved pruning raspberry canes in torrential rain, during a period which the University’s Hazelrigg Weather Station measured as the wettest 24 hours in more than 50 years.

The global nitrate time-bomb

Researchers have quantified for the first time the long term threat to global drinking water posed by agricultural pollution trapped in the rocks beneath our feet.

In a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Lancaster University show that vast quantities of nitrate are stored in the rocky layer between our soils and the water table. Using modelling techniques they estimate that rocks contain up to 180 million tonnes of nitrate, twice the amount believed to be stored in soil.

Selective logging threatens biodiversity

A new study finds that even low levels of logging in the Amazon rainforest may lead to great losses in biodiversity.

More than 403 million hectares of tropical forests worldwide have been earmarked for timber concessions with selective logging a common economic activity. The Brazilian Amazon alone holds around 4.5 billion m³ of commercial timber volume, and the demand on Amazonian hardwood is increased as African and Asian timber stocks are exhausted.

Bees feast on fast food

Honey bees love the invasive plant Himalayan balsam and eat it like ‘fast food’ but, like humans, they thrive better on a varied diet.

A study of honey bee bread in Lancashire and Cumbria bee hives showed that in some samples nearly 90% of the pollen came from the invasive plant Himalayan balsam.

Bee bread is made up of pollen stored in cells in the hive, and is the basic component of food for bee larvae and young bees, while older bees eat nectar in the form of honey.

Organic phosphorus call to action

A non-renewable resource, phosphorus (P) is essential for crop and food production. However, due to inefficient use and limited global reserves, inorganic P fertilisers will become less economically viable and there are concerns about future supplies and the environmental consequences of mismanagement. Without action, this situation could undermine agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

© James Hutton InstituteMajor changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a scientific consortium including the James Hutton Institute