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Articles from Science for Environment Policy

Articles from Science for Environment Policy

A service from the European Commission

Biodiversity loss threatens key ecosystem functions
A synthesis of 192 studies has provided a quantitative estimate of the impact of the loss of plant biodiversity on ecosystem primary production, showing that this impact could be as great as that of other major environmental changes, such as climate warming, rising ozone levels and ocean acidification. They examined the effects of biodiversity loss on primary plant production of biomass and decomposition of plant litter, both of which underpin the carbon cycle and provision of key ecosystem services.
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How does intensive agriculture threaten farmland bird populations?
Intensive agriculture is widely recognised as a major cause of declining farmland bird populations. New research has identified which aspects of agricultural intensification are most damaging to farmland bird numbers, examining bird populations at seven farmland sites across Europe. The researchers found that simplified landscapes created by intensive agriculture reduced bird numbers at the sites.
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Important polar ecosystem could be altered by climate change
Climate change could alter the species diversity of an important type of polar bacterial community, according to laboratory tests. At temperatures similar to those forecasted using current climate warming rates, researchers observed an increase in toxin-producing bacteria that could alter freshwater polar ecosystems.
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Street studies: keeping the urban environment cool
Trees and other vegetation have an important influence on urban temperatures. To explore these effects, Japanese researchers have built and studied scale models of tree-lined streets. This approach could help designers and planners create urban environments that are cooler during summer months.
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The environmental impact of gold production
New research has assessed the environmental impact of gold production using life cycle assessment and estimated embodied energy and greenhouse gases, embodied water and solid waste burden that each tonne of gold produces, using various processes.
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Refining risk assessment for GM crops and aquatic environments
Although methods to assess the impact of genetically modified (GM) crops on terrestrial ecosystems are well defined, impacts on aquatic ecosystems have received less attention. A recent study has shown how the first step of an Environmental Risk Assessment could be applied in an aquatic environment, to assess the exposure of aquatic organisms to proteins in GM crops, using Bt maize as a case study.
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Polycentric governance could encourage effective river basin management
A new study has compared the water governance and management systems of nearly 30 river basins around the world. Results indicated that governance systems with distributed political power and good co-ordination help to implement the principles of good governance in water management practice, and to adopt more advanced climate change adaptation policies.
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Overview of nanomaterials for cleaning up the environment
Researchers have presented an extensive analysis of the role of nanomaterials in environmental remediation and monitoring. Nanomaterials can be used to clean up toxins and bacteria from natural waters, wastewaters and the air.
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Global air quality to worsen significantly under 'business as usual' human activity
Global air quality will significantly deteriorate by 2050 unless further steps are taken to cut current emissions from human activities, according to recent research. Most people around the world will be affected by worsening air quality with hotspots of particularly poor air occurring in China, northern India and the Middle East.
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Health of European streams revealed by leaf breakdown emissions
A recent study, which assessed 100 streams across Europe, reveals that a key ecosystem process, leaf litter breakdown, is slowed when nutrient concentrations in the water are either very low or very high, has the highest potential at moderate nutrient concentrations and is inhibited in heavily polluted waters, implying that the relationship between nutrient levels and ecosystem processes, such as leaf litter breakdown, is complex. The researchers suggest that including an assessment of the functioning of ecosystem processes can make an important contribution to the overall evaluation of stream health.
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Production and imports of fluorinated greenhouse gases fall in the EU
Production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) decreased by 5% within the EU in 2011, compared with 2010, when measured in absolute, metric tonnes, according to a recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Imports and sales of these powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs) also fell, by 6% and 12% respectively, but exports rose by 5%.
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