New Ecuadorean tree species named after Attenborough

This video is about parrots at clay licks in Ecuador.

From the World Land Trust:

Spectacular New Species of Tree Named in Honour of Sir David Attenborough

June 2009 – Blakea attenboroughii is now the official scientific name of a spectacular new species of tree found only in Ecuador. This beautiful tree, with magnificent bright blue flowers, has now been formally described and published in the Proceedings of the Californian Academy of Science, and named in honour of the great natural historian and World Land Trust patron, Sir David Attenborough.

In November 2007 Lou Jost, an American Botanist who works with the World Land Trust’s Ecuadorian project partners, Fundación EcoMinga, was taking a WLT staff member and also a representative from WLT’s company sponsors, Puro Coffee, to visit the newly created nature reserve at Cerro Candelaria in Ecuador, when they found what they thought might be a species of tree new to science.

Lou’s suspicions proved correct and the tree has now features in the Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, under the name of Blakea attenboroughii. It was felt appropriate to name the tree in honour of Sir David Attenborough who has supported the World Land Trust since its foundation and has been its patron since 2004 when he launched a campaign to raise funds for the purchase of a rainforest reserve in Ecuador.

This is no ordinary tree — it is, so far, only known to occur in a tiny area of Ecuador (though further research may find it further a field) — and it has spectacular bright blue flowers. The reserve areas purchased by local Ecuadorian conservation groups, with funding from the World Land Trust, are proving to be a real treasure trove of biodiversity with many new species of orchid being discovered — some of which are being named after sponsors of the land purchase — as well as new species of frog and other wildlife.

Italian anti-Mussolini fighter interviewed

This video is an Italian interview with Luigi Fiori.

From British weekly Socialist Worker:

The ‘Devil’ who helped drive Nazis out of Italy

Italian partisan Luigi Fiori spoke to Tom Behan about his role in resisting fascism in Italy

For somebody who was born just after the First World War, Luigi Fiori is an amazingly busy person.

When I phoned his landline he was on his mobile making the final arrangements to speak at an anti-fascist meeting.

Luigi, a former Italian partisan who resisted both Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime and German Nazis, is coming to the Marxism festival in central London this week to speak on the fight against fascism, then and now.

He is a worried man, concerned about the votes for the fascists in the European elections and the presence of fascists within the Italian government.

Members of Silvio Berlusconi’s right wing government have their political roots in the fascist period.

As Luigi says, “They just pretend to be democrats. Take Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the parliament and the former leader of the National Alliance party.

“He’s been to the Wailing Wall in Israel and paid homage to the victims of Italy’s racial laws.

“He’s a fascist but he’s not stupid. He’s not a rabid dog. His ilk are just waiting for the right moment.

“Once Berlusconi falls – and he’s wobbling a bit at the moment – Fini and his gang will make a bid for power.”

Fiori is also worried because he experienced fascism as a schoolboy.

Mussolini’s National Fascist Party took power in Italy in 1922 and imposed a one party state that ruled with an iron fist.

Luigi said, “We knew nothing about what was happening outside of Italy. We were totally isolated.


“Society was totalitarian and you couldn’t speak a word out of turn.

“When other people of my age say, ‘I used to say’ I respond with comments like, ‘What do you mean? You couldn’t say anything.’

“Fascism was normality. Due to the level of repression, the anti-fascists – we didn’t know who they were – didn’t dare talk to us because we were just kids.

“They would have risked too much by revealing their identities to us.”

Even the taking of exams was an excuse for indoctrination.

If you weren’t wearing the fascist uniform then you weren’t allowed to take your place in the examination hall.

Soon after leaving school Fiori was called up to serve in the Italian army in the Second World War.

When the fascist regime collapsed in 1943, Luigi – along with tens of thousands of others – refused to serve in the puppet army set up by the Nazis and a severely weakened Mussolini.

Luigi and his comrades went up into the mountains to become partisans – armed anti-fascist resistance fighters.


Over the next 18 months they fought – and won – a bitter guerrilla war against fascists and German Nazis.

As opposed to a conventional army, the resistance movement had no hierarchy of ranks.

Commanders were elected and their powers could be immediately revoked.

Fiori led a unit in the Appenine mountains.

For security reasons he was only known by a codeword: “Commander Friar Devil”.

He never tires of telling young people that his generation faced terrible problems – and overcame them.

“When I speak at meetings I’m always saying to people: ‘Look kids, don’t give up.’

“Many are the times the Nazis assembled between 10,000 and 12,000 men to attack us, and they really knocked the hell out of us.

“But ten days later we were back on our feet again, and had already organised another brigade.”

Fiori is keen to learn about the situation in Britain, and agrees that parties such as the fascist British National Party (BNP) need to be confronted on the streets.

He says, “We need to be careful though as normally they have the police on their side.

“However, we’re far stronger denouncing what they’re doing – shouting loud and clear that what they’re doing is dangerous.

“We’ve been far too tolerant for far too long – these people shouldn’t be allowed to go around waving swastikas.

“Our strength lies in our commitment and our numbers.”

Italy’s parliament has given final approval to frightening legislation that allows vigilante-style citizen patrols to operate in the alleged fight against illegal immigration: here.

Only days before the G8 summit opens, a new security law directed primarily against illegal immigrants comes into force in Italy: here.

Southern damselflies in Devon, England

This is a video of mating southern damselflies.

From Wildlife Extra:

Southern damselflies released into Devon nature reserve

26/06/2009 16:33:18

Rare insect reintroduced to Devon heath

June 2009. Devon Wildlife Trust has staged the mass reintroduction of a globally threatened species into one of its reserves. Over the past week, 500 southern damselflies have been released at Venn Ottery Nature Reserve in East Devon.

30% decline in UK

The small iridescent blue insects are found at just five sites in Devon and the species has suffered a 30% decline in the UK since 1960. The dragonflies were transferred from Beaulieu Heath in the New Forest to the 25 hectare Devon Wildlife Trust SSSI using butterfly rearing cages. The insects were moved over the course of four days and were released successfully on to a 400 metre stretch of water course. …

DWT’s Nature Reserves Officer Ian Chadwick said: ‘Over 95% of the southern damselfly’s two-year lifecycle is spent as a larva living in submerged stream vegetation. A permanent supply of unpolluted, slow moving running water is essential for their survival. This work has enabled us to create the right conditions for the reintroduction and we are confident that it will succeed.’

July 2011: Volunteers at Devon Wildlife Trust have been the first to witness the return of the southern damselfly at Venn Ottery Nature Reserve following the successful re-introduction of 500 adults in 2009: here.

Wood white butterfly gets extra protection in Herefordshire: here.

Why is Herefordshire ignored by national conservation bodies? RSPB, we need you: here.

Basking shark births seen for the first time

This video is called Basking sharks filmed in Cornwall, England.

From Wildlife Extra:

Basking shark births witnessed for the first time

29/06/2009 09:45:42

Basking sharks have been breaching – Very unusual behaviour

June 2009. Snorkellers have witnessed basking shark behaviour never before seen anywhere in the world. Up to five basking shark pups have been born to two females during a mass gathering of the world’s second largest fish, off the coast of Cornwall.

900 Basking shark sightings

During the last month, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, along with Seaquest, has run a surveying project funded by British International Helicopters. To date, the 40 trained volunteers have sighted a basking shark every day, with an estimated 900 sightings in total.

Basking shark breaching

Tom Hardy, marine conservation officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, has also reported six basking shark breaches during this period. Breaching is incredibly rare behaviour and was photographed in the UK for the first time in 2006.

According to Joan Edwards, head of marine policy for The Wildlife Trusts, this behaviour is usually only seen in large groups. She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for science and to advance our understanding of this spectacular species. This just goes to show, what an important marine habitat the UK provides and enhances the importance of protecting such hotspots for this species.

“We just don’t know enough about their behaviour. There are theories about breaching being a form of communication linked to mating rituals or behaviour. It may be to do with males herding females. So we would issue a word of caution to people not to get too close to this supergroup. There is a risk of breach. And human contact may also have effects on the young or potentially the entire group.

Mating and reproduction

“This is fantastic timing. The Wildlife Trusts believe some areas of the South West coast and west of Scotland are seasonally very important areas for the mating and reproduction of basking sharks. The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which will be discussed by MPs in Parliament next week, will hopefully provide us with the legislation that will allow us to establish Marine Conservation Zones for our marine wildlife, including basking sharks.”

Basking shark numbers

It is estimated the basking shark population in the north-east Atlantic has declined by more than 95% from historic levels. In the past, the major threat was hunting, and more than 80,000 basking sharks were killed in the north-east Atlantic. Now, with the fishery closed, the key threats arise from collisions with boats and entanglement in fishing gear.

Basking shark breeding

Basking sharks are slow-growing, late to reach sexual maturity at 12-20 years – and produce few young – bearing five or six pups for a gestation of one to three years. This makes them extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation. Even when threats are removed, numbers take a very long time to recover.

Basking shark survey

Between 1999 – 2007, The Wildlife Trusts’ basking shark survey counted, observed and photographed sharks off the UK’s western coasts. Volunteer crews were recruited from the membership of The Wildlife Trusts and Earthwatch Institute (Europe) to help with the surveys. All volunteers received full training in all aspects of appropriate survey technique, from observation procedures to data gathering and recording.

The survey revealed basking shark hotspots off the southwest of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland where they gather for feeding and courtship. The Manx Wildlife Trust has previously identified hotspots around the Isle of Man. For more information visit

Basking shark strands in Cornwall: here.