Environments2016, 3(3), 15; doi:10.3390/environments3030015 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study aimed to determine the potential of naturally occurring Cretan brake fern (Pteris cretica) as a biomarker and hyperaccumulator in an abandoned mine in Southwest Japan. This species is a known hyperaccumulator of As. Total concentrations of heavy metals and As were determined in the shoots and roots of plants collected from inside and outside of the mine area. The results indicate that As and Pb in the shoots of P. cretica reached 1290 and 3840 mg/kg dry weight, respectively, which is classified as hyperaccumulation. The metal uptake intensity in the shoots indicates that P. cretica is a biomarker for As, Pb, and Zn. Furthermore, the metal concentrations, and bioconcentration and translocation factors indicate that P. cretica is a good candidate for phytoremediation of sites that are contaminated with As and Pb.
Abstract: This paper discusses the driving forces (DFs) of informal urbanization (IU) in the greater Cairo metropolitan region (GCMR) using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). The IU patterns in the GCMR have been extremely influenced by seven DFs: geographical characteristics, availability of life facilities, economic incentives, land demand and supply, population increase, administrative function, and development plans. This research found that these forces vary significantly in how they influence urban growth in the three study sectors, namely, the middle, north, and south areas in the western part of the GCMR. The forces with the highest influence were economic incentives in the middle sector, population increase in the north sector, and the administrative function in the south sector. Due to the lower availability of buildable land in the middle sector, the land demand and supply force had a lesser influence in this sector compared to in the north and south sectors. The development plans force had medium influence in all sectors. The geographical characteristics force had little influence in both the middle and the north sectors, but higher influence than economic incentives, availability of life facilities, and development plans in the south sector. Because of the spatial variances in life facilities organizations in the GCMR, the life facilities availability force had little effect on IU in the south sector.
Abstract: Nostoc flagelliforme, a filamentous nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium, is widely distributed in arid steppes of the west and northwestern parts of China. However, as a food delicacy this species has been overexploited from 1970 to 2000. Moreover, overgrazing, land reclamation and the removal of medicinal herbs have caused severely reduced vegetation coverage there. In this communication, a badly damaged but slowly rehabilitating N. flagelliforme-inhibiting steppe is described, and the rehabilitation of desertified steppes by the renewed growth of N. flagelliforme is proposed. The restoration of this dominant nitrogen supplier would be an ecologically sustainable solution for supplementing current measures already taken in the desertified regions. In addition, a goal of 50%–60% vegetation coverage is proposed by the N. flagelliforme restoration.
Abstract: Irrigated rice production is one of the most essential agricultural activities for sustaining our global population, and at the same time, one of the agricultural sectors considered most eco-unfriendly. This is because it consumes a larger share of available freshwater resources, competing with varied ecosystems as well as other economic sectors; its paddy fields are responsible for significant emission of greenhouse gases; and the reliance on chemical fertilizers and various agrochemicals contributes to pollution of soils and water systems. These stresses on soils, hydrology and atmosphere are actually not necessary for rice production, which can be increased by modifying agronomic practices though more agroecologically-sound management practices. These, combined under the rubric of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), can reduce requirements of irrigation water, chemical fertilizer and agrochemicals while increasing paddy yields and farmer’s net incomes. Here we discuss how irrigated rice production can be made more eco-friendly for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment. This is achieved by introducing practices that improve the growth and functioning of rice plants’ root systems and enhance the abundance, diversity and activity of beneficial soil organisms that live around plant roots and within the plants themselves as symbiotic endophytes.
Abstract: Understanding and managing water quality in drinking water distribution system is essential for public health and wellbeing, but is challenging due to the number and complexity of interacting physical, chemical and biological processes occurring within vast, deteriorating pipe networks. In this paper we explore the application of Self Organising Map techniques to derive such understanding from international data sets, demonstrating how multivariate, non-linear techniques can be used to identify relationships that are not discernible using univariate and/or linear analysis methods for drinking water quality. The paper reports on how various microbial parameters correlated with modelled water ages and were influenced by water temperatures in three drinking water distribution systems.
Abstract: This paper summarizes the deliberations at a meeting convened by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation held in Beijing in October 2015. Farm power and mechanization are agricultural production inputs that will be essential to raise the labor and land productivity required if Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 (ending poverty and hunger) are to be achieved. The smallholder farm sector demand for mechanization needs to be raised to stimulate the product value chain and activate input supply (that is to raise farm productivity, stimulate value addition, and encourage private sector custom hire service provision). The sustainability of mechanization from a natural resource conservation point of view is discussed with reference to conservation agriculture principles. Mechanization appropriate for the smallholder sector covers the range of possible power sources human, draft animal and motorized. The key is to engage all the stakeholders in the supply chain and offer a range of suitable options from which the user can select. Sustainability of mechanization includes financial and social, as well as environmental factors. Local manufacturers should be supported where feasible as they can provide implements and machines adapted to local conditions—and better technical service and replacement part supply. The public sector role in providing access to mechanization should be restricted to promulgating enabling policies, building technical and business management skills and stimulating demand. The lessons to be learnt from Chinese experience in making mechanization available to smallholder farmers include subsidies, strong extension services, infrastructure development and a solid manufacturing sector that prioritizes the smallholder sector. The implications for sub-Saharan Africa appear to be that group ownership and custom hire service provision are the models to follow. Finally, the relevance of an African Center for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization, on the model of CSAM in Beijing, is considered and recommended.