May 2010

Preserve natures heritage for a living

2010-May-27   ::   (0 comments)

Seed Bank Petaluma

Petaluma, California. Here on the Western Coast of California, where people are on the forefront of the green movement, we came across a solution that deals with a disaster, that traces back to the 1920's: Hybrid seeds, which are the first generation offsprings of two distant and distinct parental lines of the same species. Seeds taken from a hybrid may either be sterile or more commonly fail to breed true.
The development of hybrid seed enabled the beginning of the commercial seed market, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century. However, the downside is that farmers were persuaded to buy new hybrid seed each season, replacing the traditional practice of farm-saved seed. These seeds require huge amounts of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and lots of water to achieve their high yields.
Hybrid seeds and their required fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation systems have trapped many of the world’s poorest farmers into a cycle of debt. For example, in India hundreds of farmers have committed suicide due to debt.

As opposed to hybrid seeds, open-pollinated seeds are the traditional varieties which have been grown for their desirable traits for millennia, for as long as there was agriculture. They grow well without high inputs of fertilizers or pesticides because they have been selected under organic conditions. These varieties have better flavor or are robuster than hybrid varieties and are capable to adapt to the local ecosystem.

Open-pollinated varieties can produce new offspring from which farmers could save seeds and replant.

Today, hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening. Producers of hybrid seeds like Monsanto are working hard in order to keep it that way. "Profit prevails over healthy natural organisms" was what Jere Gettle probably thought, and to change that he started to sell heirloom seeds by mail order at age 17. Heirloom means open-pollinated seeds that have been preserved and passed down through generations. 12 years later, in 2009, he opened up "The Seed Bank" in Petaluma, a California store where West Coast gardeners can purchase his over 1,200 heirloom seed varieties from 70 countries.

The Seed Bank supports organically grown foods by donating heirloom seeds to local schools, non‑profits, and community gardens. “Even though seeds cost little money, they are something of value,” Jere stresses, and he hopes to encourage local gardeners to keep a collection of their heirloom seeds for future generations.

In the gloomy reality of Monsanto's corrupt business practice, it is more important than ever to preserve the precious heritage of Mother Earth.

The Seed Bank is located at 199 Petaluma Boulevard in Petaluma, California. The Seeds can also be purchased online at www.rareseeds.com.

Ecological balance and respect for the integrity of all life

2010-May-18   ::   (0 comments)

Ralph Metzner

Hale'iwa, O'ahu, Hawai'i. The day after tomorrow we will move on to the mainland US. At the end of May we will meet and interview Dr. Ralph Metzner near San Francisco, California. He is a psychologist, writer and researcher, who participated in psychedelic research at Harvard University in the early 1960s.

Ralph Metzner dedicated his life to the healing and harmonizing of the relationships between humanity and the Earth. He beliefs this can be achieved through a recognition of the energetic and spiritual interconnectedness of all life-forms in all worlds.

We are looking forward getting to know a man who helps bring about changes in attitudes, values, perceptions, and world views that are based on ecological balance and respect for the integrity of all life.

Help to create the Daram Marine Area, Indonesia

2010-May-7   ::   (0 comments)

Healthy corals in Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Islands are situated in northwest Papua, Indonesia, the heart of the Coral Triangle. They are at the very center of world bio-diversity. The Misool Conservation Centre intends to protect a total of 450 square miles of some of the areas's most pristine, and at risk, reef systems.

Time is short. This incredible area is under immediate and severe threat from the approach of destructive fishing practices such as the use of cyanide and dynamite. Indonesia has the largest shark and ray fishery in the world. We must act now or risk losing one of the most pristine, bio-diverse and beautiful reef systems left on earth.

The existing marine reserve

In 2005, Misool Eco Resort (MER) and the Misool Conservation Center (MCC) spearheaded the process of conservation in Southeast Misool. Their efforts resulted in a marine reserve that encompasses 168 square miles. This area is a No-Take-Zone (NTZ), where fishing, shark-finning, and all other extractive practices through collaboration between MER, MCC and the local communities that have legal jurisdiction over the area.

This coalition has established an outstanding track record in safeguarding the area, and in 2008, WildAid provided funding for a ranger boat that patrols the NTZ. The success of the NTZ reflects back on the local communities in the form of sustainable jobs, direct lease fees, and civic pride.

Continuing threats

Having successfully abated the threats in the existing reserve, MCC is now looking to expand conservation in the area to include a new 153 square mile marine reserve in the adjacent Daram Island Chain, and a connecting 147 square mile No-Take Corridor. Sadly, Daram currently serves as base for outside fishermen who set up camps and destructively fish throughout the region.

These fishermen engage in illegal fishing, shark finning, and turtle/turtle egg harvesting. They levy extreme damage to the reef systems with net fishing, live reef-fish trade, and even dynamite fishing. This activity must be stopped.

Objectives for the new marine reserve

The proposed Daram Marine Area and No-Take Corridor will constitute the response to this clear present danger. The reserve will not only create a legal framework to stop these destructive practices, it will provide for ranger patrols, empowered to enforce the new regulations.

Groundwork already in place

MCC already has verbal commitments, contingent on finding funds for the project, from the villages that hold rights to the Daram Islands for the creation of the marine reserve. The Head of Fisheries for the regional government of Raja Ampat, which controls the water between the existing and proposed marine reserves, has committed to designating these connecting waterways as a No-Take Corridor, effectively merging the two reserves into one. The total protected area will cover 468 square miles, and all levels of local and regional government will officially recognize the NTZs and the authority of rangers.

In addition to having secured critical buy-in from local and regional governments, MCC has produced specific plans for protecting the reserve, down the the fuel-costs of patrol boats. The only piece missing from the puzzle is the funding to make it happen.

Help us conserve Daram!

Establishing the marine reserve will create an extraordinary sanctuary within Raja Ampat and provide a sustained financial return to the villages that own the area. The Daram Marine Area presents a once in a lifetime opportunity.

$920,000 will entirely fund the proposed work. Even the smallest amount counts. Please, donate now! (The funding will be collected by WildAid - please, choose program area "Indonesia - Misool/Daram")

More information: www.DaramMarineArea.org

Green turtles - Protected silent swimmers

2010-May-5   ::   (0 comments)

Green turtle under water

Haleiwa, O'ahu, Hawaii. We feel very fortunate to visit these unique islands. Apart from our work for Seventh Generation we are enjoying the immensely beautiful nature of the volcanic islands and immerse ourselves in the traditions and cultures of Hawaii.

One quiet inhabitant of the crystal clear waters surrounding Hawaii that we see very often and that seems to follow us, even above the water, is the green turtle. The Hawaiians call these beautiful creatures "Honu" and for them it symbolizes life force and they believe them to be protective spirits, "Aumakua". Up until a few years ago they were hunted for their meat and threatened by extinction, when in 1988 they were declared as protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This gentle animal can grow up to 50 years old and feeds on jellyfish and algae on the lava reefs that surround all the Hawaiian islands. They are excellent swimmers and swim distances of several hundred miles and return after many years to the place of their birth to lay their eggs. Still today many of these reptiles die as by-catch or by eating plastic floating in the ocean, mistaking it for food.

One of the organizations that fights for the preservation of the turtle's habitat, is the Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF).  Many organizations like the HWF take to the shores with gloves and trash bags, picking up litter where it doesn't belong - an initiative that also people in other countries, like Australia, do, and that everyone can do in their city and surrounding.