Our Earth Day stories…What’s yours?

At CABI we spend a lot of time researching some of the most extreme challenges facing the environment, and supporting livelihoods that depend on the environment with programmes like Plantwise. Each year the international community celebrates Earth Day on April 22nd, to draw public attention to some of these challenges like climate change, food insecurity, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and how we can all play a part in the solution. To raise awareness today, we’d like to share some of our Earth Day stories: tales of ways big and small that we are trying to conserve the Earth’s resources, or what we would like to do this year. Check out our stories below and let us know in the comments, on facebook or twitter one of your stories this Earth Day.


Julia Dennis, Communications Manager Plantwise & CABI Switzerland

Image“I never knew there was so much wildlife in city parks until I started last year working with the Green Gym in London’s Regents Park. It’s run by The Conservation Volunteers to fix up park space and make it suitable for more species of plants and animals, helping them thrive even in urban spaces. The name is no joke as well- it is an extremely good workout cutting through bramble and planting trees. Ouch!”

 


Claire Curry, Content Developer

Kessner Photography (CC BY)
Kessner Photography

“You can’t beat freshly picked food from the field. We have a small fruit and vegetable plot where we grow a range of crops including apples, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, carrots and lettuces. This provides us with great produce using minimal resources as the fruits and vegetables do not have to be packaged or transported – just pick, rinse and eat! The peelings and other garden waste are then recycled into compost, ready to fertilise the next crop.”

 


Sarah Hilliar, Creative Designer

sarah reef

“In 2006 I spent 4 weeks in the Philippines doing reef conservation work with Coral Cay Conservation. This involved learning 400 fish, coral and invertebrate species and taking part in 3 dives a day on various reefs around the coastline of the Philippines. The highlight was being in the water with whale sharks during one of the dives!”

 

 


Holly Wright, Project Management Supportgarden

“I live in a house that loves good food- growing it, cooking it, sharing it and eating. It’s so great to know exactly where your food comes from and how it’s been grown. The shorter the chain from mud to mouth the better.

I have the luxury of growing my own food or buying it. For many subsistence farmers their garden plots are their only choice and the success of their crops can be the difference between food or famine. I first saw poverty 12 years ago and I’ve had a heart to work in food security ever since.”


Emily Palmer, Content Development Assistant

Looking out over the Thames on the way to CABI Photo credit: Emily Palmer
Photo credit: Emily Palmer

“One of my favourite things about living close to work is walking in and back every day along the Thames. It takes about 35 minutes, so I have lots of time to enjoy the scenic river view, listen to the songbirds and ducks, and get energized for the day. I’ve met lots of people and some very friendly dogs – it’s a great way to get some exercise and reduce my fuel consumption!”


Credit: Polythene Pam, Plastic Is Rubbish

Abigail Rumsey, Content Developer

“My cousin has spent the past seven years boycotting plastics. When you start thinking about this in today’s consumer society, it seems like an impossible task. However, she has managed to cut down to using the bare minimum of plastic wherever possible: making her own beauty products, insisting that supermarkets fill her fabric bags, using refillable bottles for water, and not using disposable stationery. Also, wherever she goes in the world, she documents the plastic rubbish that is ruining scenery and killing animals.”

Take a look at the Plastic Is Rubbish website to find out how you can start to cut plastic out of your life: http://plasticisrubbish.com/

What is M&E? and Gender Mainstreaming?

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M&E is more than just a development buzzterm, it’s “a way of thinking” explains INTRAC workshop leader Max Peberdy, who was part of a the week-long training course for CABI staff in the UK. Plantwise programme leaders were among those learning how to embed montitoring and evaluation (M&E) as well as gender responsiveness into everyday project planning, and outcome tracking, for immediate and long term goals.   Continue reading

Helping to Secure Crop Yields Globally with Land Drainage

by Tim Sissons of William Morfoot land drainage, experts based in the East of England.

Water drainage on farmland
© William Morfoot

Along with a combination of other factors, agriculture, and therefore food production depend on the proper management of water to enable crops to develop properly and yields to be healthy.

Globally, ecosystems and environments vary greatly and even the most experienced crop producers can see a drop in yields when dealt a particularly nasty deal by Mother Nature.

To provide them with sustainable agricultural development and to help secure their harvest, farmers often rely on land drainage systems to help them cope with a deluge of rain or even a lack of it.

Although it may seem like an odd statement, a sustainable land drainage system is as important in areas of low rainfall as it is in those where rainfall is high. In the first instance a correctly installed land drainage system can help to minimise soil salinisation and in the second it is necessary to prevent the water logging of soils which can lead to a whole host of difficulties.

In 2002, the FAO estimated that salinity had damaged about 20 to 30 million hectares of irrigated land, resulting in loss of crops for a number of those working in the agricultural industry globally – upsetting food security. A build-up of saline happens more regularly on irrigated land due to the addition of salts in irrigation water where natural drainage is insufficient.

Land drainage is also pivotal for securing the quality of soils, as waterlogging prevents crops accessing the vital nutrients needed to grow to their full potential.

So how is land drainage relevant across the world? And how do different ecosystems use land drainage systems to their advantage? Continue reading