Launch of the Fund to Fight Desertification a Key Achievement – IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters [...]

As desertification is the clear and present danger to our landscapes -a transnational issue that governments are seemingly powerless to attack- this initiative could be a harbinger of what is to come, with ground-based initiatives leading the way, and public sector falling in behind with substantial support.

According to the Bonn-based UNCCD Secretariat, the Fund has turned the traditional approach to investment on its head: boldly uniting project leaders, farmers, public and private investors to redefine healthy and productive land as an asset. It has encouraged public funders to secure the risk taken by private investors – to achieve measurable sustainable impact on the ground. (Source)

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Vodafone Portugal backs start-up Smart Forest to prevent fires – Telecompaper [...]

Thursday 21 December 2017 | 16:02 CET | NewsSmart Forest, a Portuguese start-up working on ways to prevent forest fires, has started to be implement a pilot project in Cascais, where equipment will be installed in Quinta do Pisao. Smart Forest was voted one of three winning ideas of this years edition of Big Smart Cities, a competition for entrepreneurship and innovation promoted by Vodafone Power Lab and Ericsson. Cascais municipality will receive a range of solutions from the startup winners to help improve mobility, energy efficiency and waste management in the city.With the installation of IoT sensors at Quinta do Pisao, Smart Forest will gather information critical to preventing fires, such as carbon dioxide levels, humidity, wind power and direction. The data is transmitted by Vodafones mobile network to a gateway that, through an artificial intelligence system, analyzes and interprets the information, triggering alerts in case of fire risk. (Source)

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Tragedy as fires kill scores – The Portugal News [...]

A high-level summary of post-mortem analysis & reaction following the devastating fires of this past summer in Portugal. Dunno why this rates as news NOW, since the government and NGO reports came out some months ago… And it’s noteworthy that they cite just a single theory of immediate cause (i.e. dry lightning strike), when there are competing theories -including organized arson.

Fire experts, meanwhile, pointed to a series of shortcomings in Portugal’s strategy of tackling wildfires, even though the summer blazes have been happening for decades.
There is a broad consensus that more work is needed on fire prevention, starting with forest clearing and the creation of fire breaks.
“In Portugal, the main factor in the scale of wildfires is the unbroken stretches of forest,” Paulo Fernandes, a forest researcher at Portugal’s Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University, said.
But he noted that around 90 percent of landowners have smallholdings, making it difficult for authorities to keep tabs on them all.
Xavier Viegas, a wildfire expert at Portugal’s Coimbra University, said Portugal needs a long-term strategy, but changes in government often mean changes in forest and farm policies.
He said a key measure would be the creation of “fire-resilient communities” who receive instructions on what to do when faced with a wildfire and to not act rashly.
“We need to prepare them so that they don’t go dashing off in cars,” Mr Viegas said.
Portugal’s leading environmental lobby group, Quercus, blamed the blazes on “forest management errors and bad political decisions” by governments over recent decades.
It rebuked authorities for allowing the planting of huge swathes of eucalyptus trees – the country’s most common and most profitable species – but one that is often blamed for stoking blazes.
Emergency services were also criticised for not closing the road where most of the deaths occurred. (Source)

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Mandevilla Or Dipladenia: Information About The Care Of Dipladenia [...]

Interesting article on these two kindred-but-different tropical plants (will help me to nail the species of a plant that was gifted to my farm)… But i question some of these assertions about tropical plants. For example: Bougainvilleas must be brought inside for the winter? i beg your pardon, but Bougainvilleas grow to monstrous proportions outdoors here in Algarve, where winter temperatures can get down near freezing. Check this out:

My gardening zone is not at all sultry, warm and humid, but it doesn’t stop me from purchasing a bougainvillea or other tropical plant for outdoor use. The plants thrive in summer but have to be moved indoors in the cooler season. Dipladenia, a favorite, is a South American native that grows in tropical forests. The plant is similar to mandevilla vine and works outside in warm zones, or indoors as an accent houseplant. We will discuss the difference between dipladenia and mandevilla so you can decide which of these amazing flowering vines is the best option for your garden. (Source)

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