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Interesting Geography stuff for InterHigh

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Archive for the ‘Appropriate technology’ Category

Pioneering six-mile walkway to attract ‘eco tourists’ to Amazon rainforest

Posted by Lindy on January 24, 2012

23rd January 2012

A project to build a pioneering science centre with more than six miles of walkways will give tourists spectacular views in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The £6.4m centre will be built by a British charity and will act as a research base for scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, provide jobs for Brazilian tribes and attract eco-tourists, according to The Sunday Times.

Tourist high-light: The walkway will give visitors a stunning view of the rainforest from high above the jungle floor. The ambitious walkway will be located in Roraima, a remote province of northeast Brazil, and will be designed by the same architects who created  the London Eye and Kew Gardens’ treetop walkway. Researchers will use the walkway to study the rainforest canopy while tourists will be able to enjoy stunning views from high above the jungle floor.

The project is being co-ordinated by the Amazon Charitable Trust and is expected to take two years to construct. Robert Pasley-Tyler, a managing partner of the Amazon Charitable Trust, said of the project: ‘It will employ the local river tribe, giving them a way of making a living without destroying the forest, and also boost awareness around the world. Visitors will also get to see the nearby pink dolphins and the giant otters before spending a relaxing day on a riverside beach.’

Roraima is the northernmost and least populated state of Brazil. It borders Venezuela and Guyana and renowned for its challenging hiking routes.


Posted in Amazon, Appropriate technology, Global warming, management, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

A really neat way to look at things

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011

Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Development, Energy sources, Global warming, Recycling, Renewable, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

Climate smart agriculture – a new way to use old solutions

Posted by Lindy on November 17, 2011

This is a short summary of a very long article, the full text of which can be found here:

What is the aim of CSA? Climate smart agriculture (CSA) increases crop yields, whilst storing more soil carbon and providing greater climate resilience

The present: As a major user of freshwater and fossil fuels, a significant producer of greenhouse gases and a frequent trigger to deforestation, agriculture has tended to be seen as part of the climate change problem rather than an agent of mitigation. The concept of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) seeks to reverse that pattern.

Developed countries currently focus on reducing energy inputs and emissions, and look for suitable opportunities for biofuel production. They look at opportunities for carbon trading from agricultural production, while the least developed countries are likely to be predominantly focussed on adapting their agricultural systems to meet the challenges posed by a changing climate.

What is Climate Smart Agriculture? Climate resilient agriculture has as its focus the effort to maximise farm output in a changing climate. But Climate Smart Agriculture is this, plus a drive to move agriculture out of the box where it is part of the problem, and into the box where it is part of the solution – George Jacob, Communications, Self Help Africa

By promoting agricultural best practices, such as Integrated Crop Management, conservation agriculture, intercropping, improved seeds and fertilizer management practices, CSA encourages the use of all available and applicable climate change solutions This is done to not only adapt but also mitigate and increase productivity sustainably – Farming First coalition

CSA is agriculture that is resilient and adapted to climate change; helps reduce emissions and sequester carbon; reduces pressure on forests; maintains ecosystem services and biodiversity; and produces food, fibre and fuel crops that the world needs – David Howlett, Africa College, Leeds University

Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, Solution to problems | 1 Comment »

Kibera – cash for trash – a new video

Posted by Lindy on November 14, 2011


Posted in Appropriate technology, Kibera, Recycling, Sustainability, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Analysis Promising Biodiesel Crop needs Time To Prove Itself

Posted by Lindy on October 30, 2011

Date: 28-Oct-11; From article by  Nina Chestney

There is new hope for biodeisal from a little known tree, the pongamia pinnata tree. It will not reduce food production as it grows on poor land but much more research is needed before we can be sure it will work.

Pongamia pinnata is native to Australia, India and parts of southeast Asia. Its oil has so far been used in medicines, lubricants and oil lamps. Pongamia is attractive because, after six years of cultivation, its oil yield is estimated to rise to around 23 tonnes per hectare per year — almost double yields of 12 tonnes from jatropha (see below), another tree that is a biodiesel feed crop, and 11 tonnes from palm oil.

But the optimism is cautious as prior experience with jatropha shows that what looks like a promising crop may prove disappointing. A few years ago, jatropha was hailed as a biofuel alternative to fossil fuels that would not further impoverish developing countries by diverting resources away from food production. Its high oil yield and ability to grow on marginal land were attractive, but its commercial promise was overstated. Some farmers found that it needed fertilizer to thrive and that its harvesting and processing proved energy-intensive.

However, the evergreen pongamia can grow on marginal arid or semi-arid land and is a nitrogen-fixing tree, which means that it helps fertilize the soil, is promising.


While several large organisations have already planted trees in unused areas of Australia and India, it also believed that there is a role for small scale production.  India has recognized the potential for small-holders to grow the tree on marginal land and has encouraged them to plant around 25 million trees since 2003 and has bought the seed pods for processing into biodiesel.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Bio-enenrgy, Energy sources, Renewable, Solution to problems, Sustainability, Transport | Leave a Comment »

Women helped to recover degraded land

Posted by Lindy on October 28, 2011


Preventing irreversible degradation should be a global fight tackled with local, national and regional solutions. One-third of the world’s population lives in drylands where land degradation is reducing food supplies, biodiversity, water quality and soil fertility. Many of the poorest and most food-insecure people live off these lands as small-scale farmers and herders. Because they have no fallback options if this land deteriorates, they are the worst hit by desertification.

Solutions exist to help communities living in harsh environments to improve their livelihoods. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) is working with local, national and international partners on initiatives that revitalise soils and conserve water, enabling communities to reap the health benefits and incomes from otherwise degraded or soon to become degraded lands.

The approach of bioreclamation of degraded lands shows how women’s groups could revitalise barren lands by using simple water and soil conservation techniques, such as zai pits (small holes enriched with compost), to plant drought-tolerant trees and crops, and applying small amounts of fertiliser to the plant root, a technique known as microdosing.

In west Africa, most women have no or few rights to agricultural land, so Icrisat has been working with local NGOs to help them form associations and gain access to communal village wasteland. Scientists showed the women how to plant a range of crops, nutritious trees and high-value vegetables using zai pits and demi lunes (semi-permanent planting basins) to harvest rainwater and concentrate nutrients for the plants.

Their work shows that degraded lands can be made productive by plants such as the hardy Pommes du Sahel, which have 10 times the vitamin C of ordinary apples and are rich in calcium, iron, and phosphorus, and Moringa trees, the leaves of which contain four times the vitamin A in carrots, four times the calcium and double the protein in milk and three times the potassium in bananas. Drought-tolerant pigeon pea was found to help soil fertility by fixing nitrogen in the soil. It also traps pests that would otherwise attack and damage the okra that the women plant in the zai pits, and gives harvests even when rainfall is scarce.

However, most crucially, we must look at how we can prevent soils becoming degraded in the first place. By involving farmers in sustainable water and soil management, Kothapalli, a village in Andhra Pradesh, India, which was previously below the poverty line due to recurrent drought, is now prosperous and serving as a model for other villages in Thailand, Vietnam, China and Africa. Farmers have been shown how to carry out a healthcheck and feed it the nutrients that are missing so that the soil recovers before it is too late. By adding nutrients such as zinc and boron to exhausted soil, farmers are getting better and more nutritious harvests.

• William Dar is director general of the Icrisat in Andhra Pradesh, India

Posted in Appropriate technology, Food supply, Fragile environments, Sahel, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

FRW Malawi Farmers combat climate change with mulch

Posted by Lindy on October 20, 2011 Date Posted: October 17th, 2011

Anthony Kapesa has stopped tilling his land. But this farmer from Zombwe village in Malawi still expects a good harvest of maize this year. Faced with worsening dry spells, Mr. Kapesa now spreads moisture-preserving mulch over the surface of his untilled field. Lack of rainfall during the growing season is an increasing concern for farmers in Malawi. Many people believe this problem is due to climate change. In the past, Mr. Kapesa’s crops wilted whenever there was a dry spell. He hoed his fields every season. He made ridges on which he planted his maize. But he learned that soil loosened by tilling is more easily dried by the sun. Now, Mr. Kapesa uses wild grass to mulch his fields. He cuts the grass and leaves it to dry before spreading it. To plant his seeds, he pulls aside a little mulch, digs a small hole, drops in a seed, and buries it. Mulch protects the soil against the impact of raindrops. It allows rain to soak slowly into the ground. When the rains don’t come, the mulch keeps the soil cool and reduces the rate of moisture loss.

Mr. Kapesa points to a granary full of harvested maize. He says, “Since I started using this system, my crop no longer wilts … as a result, my yields have been more than what they used to be when I planted my crops on ridges.” Before he began mulching, Mr. Kapesa harvested 16 50-kilogram bags of maize. Now the same land produces 43 bags, nearly triple the yield.

Tilling the soil and making planting ridges are traditional farming techniques in Malawi. Chakalipa Kanyenda is program manager for Find Your Feet, a UK-based non-governmental organization. Find Your Feet teaches farmers how to adapt to the effects of climate change. According to Mr. Kanyenda, tilling and ridging can increase moisture loss from the soil. He says that mulching has successfully cushioned farmers against the increasingly erratic rainfall in Malawi. Farmers have eagerly adopted the practice.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Food supply, Fragile environments, Solution to problems, Water | Leave a Comment »

Providing an Agricultural Answer to Nature’s Call

Posted by Lindy on October 18, 2011


Posted in Appropriate technology, Development, Fragile environments, Global warming, Human geography, IGCSE, Kibera, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

Researchers Produce Cheap Sugars for Sustainable Biofuel Production

Posted by Lindy on October 2, 2011

ScienceDaily (Sep. 30, 2011)

A liquid looking like treacle is produced by the fast pyrolysis of biomass such as corn stalks or wood chips. Fast pyrolysis involves quickly heating the biomass without oxygen to produce liquid or gas products.

This is a new way to make inexpensive sugars from biomass. That’s a big deal because those sugars can be further processed into biofuels.  It has the potential to be the cheapest way to produce biofuels or biorenewable chemicals.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Bio-enenrgy, Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, IGCSE, Renewable, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

The Peepoople – a safe solution to poor sanitation

Posted by Lindy on September 8, 2011

Follow this link for the slide show that goes with this article:

“They call me ‘Mama Poo’” Anne told me matter-of-factly as we strolled through a dusty pathway in Silanga, a small neighbourhood in the expansive Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. “And I like that,” she added.

Anne Nudge is a Sales Representative for Peepoople AB, a Swedish social enterprise that, last October, launched a pilot project in Silanga, marketing and selling “The Peepoo”– a single-use, personal toilet that sanitizes human waste quickly, preventing it from contaminating the surrounding environment. After just a few weeks, the bag transforms the waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. (This then gets used in bag-gardens – more later). It works because the inner bag contains a cheap chemical urea that breaks down and kills all the bugs in the poor in just 3 weeks. By this time the plactic has biodegraded and you have safe compost.

The Peepoo bags, which sell at a subsidized (by PeePoople) cost of three Kenyan Shillings each (2 pence English), are used at home. They might seem basic but and it actually strictly adheres to the World Health Organization’s definition of sanitation- isolating waste from humans, isolating it from flies and animals, and inoculating the pathogens before it returns to environment. ( see pictures of peepoo bags here: )

While treated bags may seem a rudimentary, even crude form of sanitation, looking at the alternatives make the solution seem a little less far fetched. The first option for many slum dwellers are the overcrowded, unsanitary, and often unsafe public toilets- simple elevated wooden or tin shacks with holes in the floor- which breed disease and sometimes serve up to 300, even 500 households. ( follow this link to see why they don’t like the public tioete – scroll down to see some really bad pictures! )

The second, and less attractive option, are “flying toilets,” tiny grocery bags that, after usage, are carelessly thrown into the street or alley, where it seeps back into the ground.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Kibera, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »