Lichens can cure chronic wasting disease in wildlife

This is another example of the way Mother Nature always provides a cure for any disease it creates. Scientists and ecologists have been fighting for about half a century with some kind of disorder they discovered in moose, wild elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer, on the American continent. This disease is called “chronic wasting disease” or CWD and it consists of important weight loss and abnormal behavior. After a certain period of time the infected animal will die. This disease is produced by a “prion”, which is a fraction of a protein that has infectious properties and can destroy some parts of the brain. Being so small and resistant, it is very difficult to destroy and it seems that more and more cases of CWD spread through the simple contact of the infected animal with a healthy one, or through infected soil. Also, there are no medicines for this disease, as it does not respond to antibiotics or any anti infection drugs.

This is the main reason of joy for the scientists who discovered that, in the lab, some enzymes found in lichens can break down the prions. Another very important fact is that lichens are naturally found in the wild, so the balance of nature won’t be disturbed by them. The lichens are neither a plant, nor an animal, but a symbiotic organism, made from algae, fungi and bacteria. This complex structure is probably the secret of their healing effect. It still remains to be seen if what has been discovered in lab conditions is going to prove right in nature. The ecologists and scientists hope that if the affected wildlife will consume the healing lichens, then the symptoms of chronic wasting disease will disappear and the animals will thus be saved from a tragic death. Although CWD has not spread to humans, the quicker it is eradicated, the better.

The Dangers of Fishing Too Much

Fishing too muchWhen learning about the threats and dangers that natural habitats undergo due to the lack of conscious of human beings, we have seen how the larger animals are constantly suffering and even need to be protected. However when it comes to the marine life, all types of fish be it large or small, seem to be equally affected when their habitat is endangered.

New studies that have analyzed data from the last sixty years have found that members of the food chain have been affected almost equally. Prior to these studies the common assumption was that the larger fish were more at risk and therefore regulations were imposed that limited their fishing; it was thought that the smaller fish were tougher and would survive longer.

The investigation has found that even the smaller fish are susceptible to the changes and dangers of overfishing. The numbers indicated that the small fish stocks were doubly affected by overfishing as opposed to the larger fish.

The investigators made emphasis that the results of habitat risk and changes on the ocean were different than those on land. The reason being is that on land the animals have to fight for territory which a lot of times is very limited whereas in the ocean the territory is large enough for all the different species.

Other ecologists have proposed that the changes in the fish population can also be due to the changes in the climate and that perhaps the overfishing issues helped make the problems even worse. Also the study was performed on data obtained from a few developed countries and that the pattern could be different in other areas from developing countries.

It was stated that this should be taken into consideration because overfishing can impact negatively the natural habitats of different fish species.

Protecting the Marine World

The protection of the marine world has increased in the last few years. There has been an increase of areas that are considered protected reserves. Many of the conservationists have stated that they are happy with the fact that more reserves are being created because this is an expensive way of keeping up with them. However there has been some discontent with the fact that the areas that ought to be protected have not been chosen.

The creation of reserves started in 2006 in Hawaii and it was encouraged by then president of the United States George W. Bush. More reserves started to be created in the following years and some of them are completely protected whereas not even fishing is allowed. At least one percent of the total reserved area is considered to be large reserves which can measure up to 100,000 km2.

One of the goals that the Biological Diversity Convention has established is that by the year 2020 they want to have 10 percent of the total ocean area marked as protected. This of course is an extremely aggressive goal that will require a lot of work in order to complete it in the next nine years.

Earlier this month Australia announced that they want to protect a total area of 320,000 km2 in the coming months however it was been discussed that this plan doesn’t cover every type of habitat as it has been established.

One thing to consider is the high costs of maintaining these reserves. It is estimated that all the protected areas are costing around 2 billion dollars every year. On the other hand, environmentalists and conservationists keep on insisting and emphasizing that the reserves are truly efficient and that larger areas tend to be more successful than the small areas.

Risk Business and the Canadian Forest

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is like the name describes it an agreement made between groups that are looking to protect the environment and the forestry industry. They are looking to keep 30 million hectares untouched and submit 42 million more to allow harvesting of trees only. The deal was made public just this month of May and it is, to this date, the largest attempt to protect the forest.

Representatives of many different associations have stated that they are looking forward to working as a team in order to be able to still meet human needs but also keeping mind not to pollute or destroy the environment.

Other groups are wary about the agreement because they believe not much will be actually done due to the different timber companies that are indisposed to following any forced rules. Therefore given the discrepancies between the visions of the different groups, there might not be much done in the future.

Some of the companies that are involved in the deal currently hold the rights to a great portion of the forest but they are willing to give up certain areas if the environmentalists stop boycotting their products.

The deadline for the agreement to come to a conclusion is one year from today; both parts need to discuss the different issues. They are trying to determine what regions of the forest should be turned in to parks that would be either national or provincial. However one of the main problems affecting the agreement itself is the fact that aboriginal groups were not taken into consideration for this matter and they are truly discontented by it. They have stated that the agreement should be terminated due to the fact that many of the areas in question are where the aboriginal communities are located and have authority over them.