In 2018 I got involved in Ecosystem Restoration Camp Altiplano, a regenerative agriculture project in Southern Spain. Camp Altiplano is a collaborative project intended to restore biodiversity and soil fertility, to explore and share alternative farming methods and to teach people about soil degradation and about the regenerative techniques that can be used to reverse such degradation. The camp is located in the Altiplano region of Murcia, a high plain that is dry, cold and windy for much of the year and warm and windy in summer. This is a very difficult climate for agriculture, and farmers in the region struggle with short growing seasons, drought, high erosion rates and rapidly decreasing soil fertility. To obtain more insight into actual climate conditions, I decided to construct a simple weather station for the camp …read more
In 1995, a film maker and journalist by the name of John D. Liu was sent by the World Bank to document a large-scale project that aimed to restore the heavily degraded soils of the Chinese Loess Plateau. The results of this restoration project so impressed John Liu, that he decided to change his career, to learn everything he could about the large-scale restoration of ecosystem functions, and to tell the world about its potential. This resulted, among other things, in the release of several documentary films, including “Hope in a Changing Climate” in 2009 (which can be viewed on Vimeo, Youtube and iTunes) and “Green Gold” in 2012. As the press kit of the first documentary states:
“On the Loess Plateau, an area the size of Belgium has been successfully restored over …
More pictures with this story: https://goo.gl/photos/gGuSuEXRN6cQKNFR7
Just months ago, I knew next to nothing about Central Asia. Probably like most people, I knew there was a group of countries just west of China, with names that all end in -stan. I was vaguely aware of a connection to the old Silk Routes, the former Soviet Union and a few acts of recent Muslim extremism. I had read something once on the near disappearance of the Aral Sea due to irrigation of cotton crops. That was about it.
Flying from Moscow to Bishkek, one passes over empty steppes and deserts for hours on end. Kazakhstan is in the top-ten of biggest countries in the world, yet somehow I completely failed to notice it on the world map that has been …read more
An interesting news-article appeared today, claiming a possible breakthrough in the development of a universal influenza vaccine. It describes the development of a new influenza vaccine at the Jenner Institute. Traditional influenza vaccines prime the adaptive immune system against the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins (the H and N used to characterise influenza subtypes) that are on the outside of the virus particles. The problem with this approach is that these HA and NA proteins mutate rapidly in order to to escape immunity, making that a new vaccine has to be developed for each new strain that evolves. The new vaccine however targets two proteins that are on the inside of the virus particle, the matrix protein (M1) and the nucleoprotein (NP). According to the AFP news article (e.g. on Yahoo …read more
This blog entry was originally written in June 2008.
Although it has hardly received any media attention here amongst the hype of the European Soccer Championships, just over a week ago the FAO organised a big conference on World Food Security. As I had some trouble concentrating on my research report last Friday, I went clicking through the FAO press releases. And unfortunately, what I read didn’t make me very hopeful that the food crisis is going to be solved any time soon.
In the past I never gave it much thought that food may actually become a problem at some point. A quick look in my local Dirk van den Broek supermarket would seem to indicate that there is plenty of cheap food around these days. And forgetting for a moment …read more