Best of our wild blogs: 20 Sep 12

Bukit Brown photo exhibition from 1 Oct – Bukit Brown: Spaces for the Living from Green Drinks Singapore

More Nights at the Museum
from Ideal Little Zoo

Random Gallery - Gram Blue
from Butterflies of Singapore

Raptors Galore on Coney Island
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Green Drinks: Remapping the Journey
from Green Drinks Singapore

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Protecting mangroves cheaper than building coastal protection

Johann Earle Reuters AlertNet 19 Sep 12;

JEJU, South Korea (Alertnet) – Keeping coastal mangrove forests intact or replanting them is cheaper than building man-man structure to protect coastlines threatened by climate change, according to the head of the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN).

“Our message is, ‘Don’t assume that man-made or engineered solutions are the only ones to protect our coasts and rivers and to provide drinking water. We are not against engineering in the absence of natural solutions, but look at what nature has to offer,’” urged Julia Marton-Lefevre at the recent World Conservation Congress in South Korea.

Preserving mangrove forests can help regulate rainfall patterns, reduce the risk of disasters from extreme weather and sea level rise, provide breeding grounds for fish and capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to slow climate change, she said. That suggests preserving them will be essential to fighting climate change and protecting lives and livelihoods in the face of climate shifts already underway.

“Standing trees help us with inevitable climate change,” she said. “Keeping mangroves intact on the coast is not only good for capturing and storing carbon but also very useful for protecting the coast in times of extreme weather conditions and acting like nurseries for fish to ensure people have protein to eat,” she said.

Marton-Lefevre said the financial benefits of maintaining mangrove forests outweigh those of, for instance, cutting mangroves to build coastal hotels, particularly when their effect on disaster risk is taken into account.

And “it is the same for trees standing rather than being cut down (in terms of) protecting against landslides,” she said.

“Ecosystems, including mangroves, play a role in mitigation and adaptation. You have to respect the forests, wetlands, peatlands and oceans in capturing and storing carbon. Once you respect that, then maybe there would be an impetus to take care of (them) better,” she said, during an interview with AlertNet.

“Standing forests also provide livelihoods for people,” she added. “You don’t have to cut the trees down to raise cattle. You could also grow food inside the forest canopy,” she said.


Part of what is driving cutting of mangroves and other forests, experts at the conference said, is a lack of alternatives to fuelwood.

In Pakistan’s Balochistan province, for instance, the juniper forests of Ziarat are being cut because residents have no other way of getting fuel. But pilot projects to provide alternative energy sources, including solar lighting, are helping make a difference, experts said.

Pakistan’s mangrove forests, similarly, have been reduced from 600,000 hectares (1.3 million acres) to 86,000 hectares (190,000 acres) over the last 50 years, according to a documentary film shown at the conference.

But an IUCN-backed effort to ensure “mangroves for the future” has so far overseen replanting of 30,000 hectares (66,000 acres) of mangroves, said Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, manager of IUCN’s Islamabad programme office.

Overall forest cover in Pakistan now stands at just four percent of the total land area and “every sapling is needed,” added Javed Jabbar, an IUCN representative for West Asia and the Middle East.

Johann Earle is a Guyana-based freelance writer with an interest in climate change issues.

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Donsol still hosts most number of whale sharks in Philippines

Jonathan Mayuga Business Mirror 19 Sep 12;

DONSOL, a small town in Sorsogon, hosts the most number of whale sharks in the Philippines, a continuing study of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) showed.

For the past six years, researchers have been studying whale sharks, also known as butanding, to create a database of the gentle creature that occasionally visits the waters of Donsol.

Using state-of-the-art satellite tags, waterproof cameras and diving experience, researchers commissioned by the WWF’s Donsol-based whale shark photo-identification program, found out that Donsol remains a favorite feeding ground of whale sharks.

In fact, because of its presence, whale watching and interaction has become a tourist attraction and a source of income and livelihood for the people in coastal barangays in Donsol.

The strikingly spotted whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) can grow longer than a passenger bus and weigh a whopping 10 tons. With unblinking golf ball-sized eyes, they wolf down wafting clouds of plankton and the occasional, unlucky small fish.  Together with basking and megamouth sharks, they are one of just three planktivorous or filter-feeding sharks and have cruised the world’s seas for some 50 million years. Little is known of their habits, with fewer than 350 sightings recorded prior to the 1980s.

Through the support of WWF-Denmark, WWF-Philippines allied with Australia-based ECOCEAN, the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute and Banco de Oro Unibank to catalogue the country’s whale sharks.

The partnership provides researchers with both population pegs and migratory data to guide conservation efforts not just for whale sharks, but for all migratory pelagic species.

Sporting waterproof digital cameras, trained WWF skin divers snap photos of a spot right above each shark’s pectoral fins, behind its gill slits.

The photos are fed into a computer which uses a program to triangulate each shark’s unique spot configuration. Data is then uploaded to the Web-based ECOCEAN library.

Unless it is a new individual, the library shows researchers when and where the shark was last encountered. Since 2003, ECOCEAN has catalogued 3,822 individual sharks from places as far as Mexico, Mozambique and the Galapagos Islands.

“Photo-identification is a non-invasive approach for identifying sharks,” said Dave David, head of the research team. “The library uses the whale shark’s distinct patterns, plus information on scars, sex and size to identify individuals.”

Since WWF-Philippines began implementing the program in 2007, 458 individual whale sharks have been identified: 377 in Donsol, 54 in Cebu, 14 in Leyte and the rest in Bohol, Palawan, Albay and Batangas.

Donsol has most whale sharks in the Philippines 19 Sep 12;

MANILA, Philippines -- If you want to spot a whale shark, more commonly known as butanding among Filipinos, Donsol in Sorsogon is still the best place to visit.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Donsol hosts the most whale sharks in the Philippines with at least 377 identified by the group -- more than any other area in the country.

In a statement released on Wednesday, WWF-Philippines said it has identified 458 individual whale sharks in the country since 2007, with 377 of them found in Donsol.

Cebu was a far second with 54 butandings identified, 14 in Leyte and the rest in Bohol, Palawan, Albay and Batangas.

With the support of WWF-Denmark, WWF-Philippines teamed up with Australia-based ECOCEAN, the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute and Banco de Oro Unibank to catalogue the country’s whale sharks. The partnership provides researchers with both population pegs and migratory data to guide conservation efforts not just for whale sharks – but for all migratory pelagic species.

Sporting waterproof digital cameras, trained WWF skin divers snap photos of a spot right above each shark’s pectoral fins, behind its gill slits. The photos are fed into a computer which uses a program to triangulate each shark’s unique spot configuration. The data is then uploaded to the web-based ECOCEAN library.

Unless it is a new individual, the library shows researchers when and where the shark was last encountered. Since 2003, ECOCEAN has catalogued 3,822 individual sharks from places as far as Mexico, Mozambique and the Galapagos Islands.

“Photo-identification is a non-invasive approach for identifying sharks,” said Dave David, a whale shark researcher at WWF-Philippines. “The library uses the whale shark’s distinct patterns, plus information on scars, sex and size to identify individuals.”

To complement the photo-identification drive, 29 whale sharks were also affixed with detachable GPS satellite tags designed to pop to the surface after several months of data collation. Four sharks were tagged in May 2007, 10 more in May 2009 and 15 in April 2010, according to the WWF.

"The results suggest that most tagged whale sharks keep to 200 kilometers of Donsol. Three however, swam east to the Philippine Sea, with one more swimming as far north as Taiwan. All spent most of their time below 50 meters, rarely rising to the surface to feed," the group said in the statement.

David said the results suggest that whale sharks are "highly mobile, transient foragers which recognize no country or territorial boundary as their own."

"The distribution of whale sharks and other large filter-feeders also indicate the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans,” he added.

For years, Donsol has been identified as a whale shark hotspot, hosting one of the largest aggregations of whale sharks on Earth.

Other large aggregations include Ningaloo Reef in Australia with 808, Mexico with 812 and Mozambique with 624.

Through continued research, David and other WWF volunteers hope to generate an accurate peg of the country’s migratory and resident whale shark population.

“Long days at sea are worth it, considering the immense scientific, ecological and economic value that whale sharks bring people,” David said.

“Even after years of research, there’s still so much we have to discover – where they feed, mate and give birth. Our work continues, which is just as well because diving with these gentle giants is pure magic.”

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Indonesia: Forest Fire Smoke Sweeps Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan

Jakarta Globe 19 Sep 12;

Palangkaraya. The haze from ground and forest fires that have blanketed the capital of Central Kalimantan for days has thickened, constraining visibility and causing hazardous air pollution, residents said on Tuesday.

Visibility in Palangkaraya was as little as 15 meters in the morning and equipment to measure the air pollution index was no longer functioning, residents said.

Deli, 42, a resident of Jalan Georgi Obos, said the broken equipment was an indication to the local population that air pollution level had reached dangerous levels.

He noted that the public display of the index had become difficult to see because of the profusion of billboards and banners in the area.

“Maybe it is because the equipment is not functioning that it is being intentionally hidden from sight behind those large banners,” said Wardi, who lives on Jalan Yos Sudarso.

Both Deli and Wardi said they hoped the equipment would be repaired so that the public could know the level of pollution and act accordingly.

According to satellite images issued on the weekend, there were 868 hotspots in the province. Hotspots are areas of high temperatures indicating possible ground or forest fires.

The hotspots were detected in eight districts of Central Kalimantan: Lamandau, Seruyan, Kapuas, Murung Raya, Katingan, Gunung Mas, East Kotawaringin and Pulang Pisau.

The smog has curtailed visibility in the air during the day to only 2,000 meters, threatening the safety of flights taking off and landing at Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya.

“We are asking the health office, the environment office, the education office and other institutions to prepare steps to take if the conditions worsen in the near future,” Palangkaraya Mayor H.M. Riban Satia said. “The smoke is starting to thicken in our region.”

He said the choking haze was increasingly presenting traffic and health concerns, with the elderly and children most prone to respiratory problems because of the smoke.

“Launch early anticipatory measures before the smoke from these ground fires endangers the population,” Riban said.

He also asked the head of the health office to conduct a registration of patients suffering from respiratory ailments to see whether there is a notable increase so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Officials have blamed the fires on the use of fire for land clearing, a practice that is outlawed but difficult to enforce.

Forest fires have become a annual occurrence during the dry season, which has a couple of months to run.


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Thailand: Fishing till the seas run dry

Patrick Campbell Phuket Gazette 19 Sep 12

PHUKET: There are certain indisputable facts about fish. With very few exceptions, they look good, taste good and they do you good. Dietitians recommend at least two fishy portions a week. So-called "oily fish" – herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines – are especially good for you since they contain omega 3 fatty acids that help keep immune systems healthy and prevent cardiovascular problems.

Fish and chips, usually battered and wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper, used to be the favorite fodder of working class Britain. Not any more. Wild fish, even the humble cod, have become scarce and consequently expensive.

Why this parlous state of affairs? The over-riding reason is over-fishing. True, there are other factors such as pollution, global warming, and the loss of habitat. But the insatiable greed of the industry, coupled with the sheer efficiency of modern commercial methods, is to blame.

The herring and mackerel shoals of the North Sea are a thing of the past. It was estimated in the late 1960s that the herring population was down to one per cent of its former numbers and fishing was banned completely in 1977.

Across the Atlantic, the cod industry of Newfoundland collapsed, another victim of over-exploitation on a grand scale. A vast natural resource vanished, whole eco-systems were changed and the cod have never returned.

Closer to home, the commercial fishing of tuna – up from one million to four million tonnes a year – has reached such a state that a BBC documentary, "South Pacific", estimates that continued fishing at current levels may see a collapse of stock within five years. And not just yellow-fin, but blue and black fin, albacore and big-eye tuna as well.
The story could be repeated about other species and habitats, as well.

In Thailand, one estimate leads us to believe that the Kingdom has about 40,000 fishing vessels, with the number of trawlers – the worst offenders – at just over 2,000. For some incomprehensible reason, the fishing industry wants to up these numbers to 3,619 vessels.

Both figures are almost certainly ludicrous underestimations anyway. And in any case, there must already be more than enough trawlers, since there is a severe and measurable decline in the numbers of fish being caught. If you don’t believe the figures, ask any sport fisherman.

A sailing friend, who regularly fishes by rod and line on extended trips around the islands, told me he is now lucky to catch three tuna a day. And the largest weigh less than three kilos.

But it is not just the sheer numbers of boats; it is the methods they employ. Trawling is the most annihilative of all techniques for catching fish. A trawl is a huge, bag-shaped affair with a closed end dragged for miles along the sea bed behind a powerful boat. Its maw is weighed down with heavy metal bars to ensure it scours the sea bed.

And scour the sea bed it does, divesting of everything that lives down below: fish and squid, crustaceans (such as crabs, shrimp and lobster), even the plants (such as sea grass) that grow there. Any coral that happens to be in its path is unceremoniously ripped from its watery home. The process has been likened to total deforestation, a technique known as "clearcutting".

Remorseless and cruel, trawling ensures that fish trapped in its maw are often already dead before the net is lifted several hours later. It is, moreover, totally indiscriminate. What is euphemistically called the "by-catch" may contain sharks, dolphins, porpoises or turtles. Six Olive Ridley turtles found stranded recently on a Phuket beach were all in distress. One had a huge propeller gash in its shell, two were missing flippers, a likely result of becoming ensnared in the sharp nylon mesh of a trawl.

Worldwide, it is estimated that 1,000 marine mammals die every day by poor fishing practices; in Danish waters alone, the fishing fleet kills 3,000 porpoises a year. And up to sixty per cent of this by-catch is returned, already lifeless, to a watery grave.

Trawlers in Thailand are supposed to respect a three mile offshore limit. But if you frequent any west coast beach in Phuket, you will see trawlers sailing well within that boundary. Judged by their snail-like speed, they may already be trawling.

Indeed, it is estimated that the same furrow of sea bed may be ploughed three times a year – especially around Phuket, where the water is shallow enough and the bottom smooth enough to enable dredging to continue unchecked. Under these circumstances, what chance is there for the re-establishment of marine life?

There are of course other methods used by commercial fishermen. Gill nets are long panels of netting, set at any depth and supported by headline floats at the top and weighted foot-ropes at the bottom. Sometimes these small monsters can be several kilometers in length. Like trawls, they do not respect aquatic life: they catch fish by wedging their bodies and gills, or by tangling their fins in the mesh. They also accidentally ensnare cetaceans, especially whales and dolphins.

Seines and purse seines are another weapon in the fisherman’s armory. Seines nets were used, as were gill nets, by artisanal fishermen the world over, long before the advent of huge vessels and sophisticated equipment such as radar, sonar, high-powered winches and high-wattage lighting.

Purse seines are more sophisticated: they operate by encircling shoals of fish and then preventing them from ‘sounding’ [going deep] by using a draw string to close the base of the net, thereby forming a purse from which the fish cannot escape. Often used for tuna or marlin fishing, or to catch varieties of pelagic fish which shoal near the surface, they can be used in deeper water where the bottom is too rocky or uneven for trawling. Even fishing by hook and line is more damaging than one might think. After all, some of these lines, baited at regular intervals, can stretch fifty miles behind a ship.

Nylon or polypropylene materials are bad news since they are virtually indestructible. Probably more responsible than any other single invention for the appalling efficiency of modern-day commercial fishing, mono-filament nylon nets last for years. They resist abrasion by rocks, tear coral to pieces, entrap, throttle and cut fish, and ensnare marine mammals. And these nets are practically invisible in sea water.

Some, have a mesh so fine that they allow almost nothing to escape. Melancholy mountains of tiny fish in any Thai fresh market, maybe millions in number, are testament to that.

A visitor to Ranong fish market recently observed that, inexplicably, about 95 per cent of the fish on sale there consisted of juvenile barracuda. None of them had been given the chance to grow to adulthood, to reach a size where they might help replenish depleted stocks.

And not only hatchlings are killed: the impact on other species dependent on any small fish for food is incalculable. In temperate waters, huge catches of sand eels are made. Most end up as fish meal, while larger fish such as haddock or cod and birds such as kittiwake gulls or puffins are
deprived of their main source of food. A crucial link in the ecological food chain is broken.

There is a human cost to all this piscine carnage. People suffer as well as fish. In the southern Thai provinces of Pattani and Narathiwat, many small fishermen in coastal communities have been driven out of business.

One fisherman interviewed said he no longer used his boat: he was only able to support his family by buying bulk shrimp from commercial vessels, and re-selling batches for a small profit.

And those fishermen who do work on trawlers often suffer appalling hardship. Often recruited illegally, it is estimated that up to 90 per cent are migrant workers who are virtual prisoners on these boats.

Captains often rule by the gun: the environment on board gives new meaning to the expression "slave ship". Indeed, many have reported slave-like conditions. And a recent newspaper editorial succinctly observed that "cheating, fraudulence, debt bondage, [even] abduction" are used to supply the nation’s fishing workers.

Thailand’s two largest export markets, the EU and the USA, are both so concerned, that they have threatened to boycott the importation of seafood and fish from Thailand unless the industry cleans up its act.

In this doomsday scenario, what steps can we take?

One thing we can all do is eat less fish, or at least avoid buying fish fry (whitebait) or pre-breeding juveniles. Maybe we should all agree to give up eating fish for a week or a fortnight. Let’s encourage all our Thai friends to help create a much greater awareness of these key environmental issues in schools.

Consuming "farmed" fish, or stock from known sustainable sources, is another important way in which we can help.

But what is most needed is greater governmental awareness and action; the exercise of better control over a greed-driven and short-sighted industry; the elimination of fake licenses and fishing permits; the prosecution of those captains who regularly and cynically violate protected coastal waters, or use ultra-fine mesh nets.

The dive industry, dependent for its survival on the preservation of coral reefs and fish species, should be allowed more influence.

Only last week, two readers’ letters in the Phuket Gazette commented on how the world famous dive areas near the Similan Islands are only surviving because scuba diving allows the sites to recover from the illegal and destructive inshore fishing on and around the reefs during the low season.

On the positive side, the farm fishing industry is flourishing. Asia leads the way in aquaculture. Prawn farming has been practiced here on the island for many years: in fact Thailand is the world’s largest producer of cultured shrimp. Tilapia and fresh water catfish, widely farmed here, are a staple of the Thai diet. Barramundi are increasingly seen as a valuable and delicious species that can be farmed.

In cold oceans there is open–water production of sea-bass and salmon. Of course, there is always a downside. To produce one sizable farmed salmon requires several times its own weight in food, much of it probably live. Farmed fish are much more prone to disease, and have been known to infect wild stocks. Prawn farms regularly release stale or polluted water into rivers and seas.

But we have no choice; it is the way we have to go. The world’s palate for fish is insatiable and rising: it now stands at 38 pounds per person per year. So-called "wild" stocks are vanishing worldwide with a finality that permits no regeneration, no renewal…

This annihilation has already happened to many fishing grounds in the Western hemisphere: it will as surely happen here too unless something is done – and done fast.

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Arctic sea ice thaw may be accelerated by oil, shipping

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 19 Sep 12;

Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said there was an urgent need to calculate risks of local pollutants such as soot, or "black carbon", in the Arctic. Soot darkens ice, making it soak up more of the sun's heat and quickening a melt.

Companies such as Shell, which this week gave up a push to find oil this year in the Chukchi Sea as the winter closed in, Exxon or Statoil say they are using the cleanest available technologies.

But the risks of even small amounts of pollution on the Arctic Ocean, emitted near ice with little dispersal by winds, have not been fully assessed.

"A lot of the concerns need urgent evaluation," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman of Naibori-based UNEP, referring to issues such as flaring of gas or fuels used by vessels in the Arctic.

"There is a grim irony here that as the ice melts...humanity is going for more of the natural resources fuelling this meltdown," he said. Large amounts of soot in the Arctic come from more distant sources such as forest fires or industry.

The extent of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean has shrunk this summer to the smallest since satellite records began in the 1970s, eclipsing a 2007 low. The melt is part of a long-term retreat blamed by a U.N. panel on man-made global warming, caused by use of fossil fuels.

"We're working to get a better documentation of the risks of black carbon in the Arctic," said Lars-Otto Reiersen, head of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), part of the Arctic Council.

An AMAP report last year said that "regulation of black carbon production from all sources, especially those resulting locally from activities in the Arctic, is required at all scales."


More than 400 oil and gas fields within the Arctic region were developed by 2007, according to AMAP, mostly in West Siberia in Russia and in Alaska. Most of the undiscovered oil and gas is now estimated to be offshore.

Soot is an extra problem for planners, adding to risks such as of an oil blowout or a shipwreck. The U.N.'s International Maritime Organization is trying to work out a new "Polar Code" that might tighten everything from emissions to hull standards.

Still, for shipping, use of the Arctic route may be less damaging overall in terms of global warming, including soot, since it is a short-cut between some Atlantic and Pacific ports. That means ships burn much less fuel on the route.

"We are working on the net effect of the Arctic route compared to the Suez Canal," said Jan Fuglestvedt, of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

In 2009, the Bremen-based Beluga Group sailed from South Korea to Rotterdam across the Arctic, cutting 4,000 nautical miles off the route via Suez. This year, for instance, an icebreaker became the first Chinese vessel to cross the ocean.

One study indicated that increased use of the Arctic route might limit carbon dioxide emissions for global shipping by 2.9 million tons a year by 2050, or 0.1 percent, compared to use of the Suez Canal.

"If the Arctic route is really open by then it may reduce carbon emissions a bit on the global scale," said Leif Ingolf Eide, an author of the study at Norwegian-based risk management group DnV. The study did not assess soot, he said.

In a 2011 report, UNEP estimated that a global crackdown on soot, methane and ozone could slow global warming by 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9F). It would also protect human health and promote crop growth.

Almost 200 nations have agreed to limit climate change to below 2 degrees C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times, seeing it as a threshold to dangerous changes such as more droughts, floods or rising sea levels.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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Climate change threatens nature from coffee to Arctic fox: forum

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 20 Sep 12;

Climate change is a threat to everything from coffee plantations to Arctic foxes and even a moderate rise in world temperatures will be damaging for plants and animals in some regions, experts said on Wednesday.

Habitats such as coral reefs or the Arctic region were among the most vulnerable to global warming, scientists said at a conference in Lillehammer, south Norway, organized by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Almost 200 governments agreed in 2010 to a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, seen as a threshold for dangerous changes such as droughts, floods, desertification and rising sea levels.

"At 2C you have impacts. The idea that 2C is a safe level doesn't really hold up," said Jeff Price, coordinator of the Wallace Initiative, an international group seeking to model the effects of climate change on 50,000 types of plant and animals.

"And when you start moving beyond 2C the impacts on biodiversity start rapidly increasing through much of the world," he said. Greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming, according to a U.N. scientific panel.

Price said Colombian coffee plantations, for instance, would have to be shifted to higher altitudes and onto more shaded northern slopes as temperatures rose. "It's going to require wholesale movements of coffee plantations in Colombia," he said.

That could put coffee more into competition with habitats for rare tropical animals and plants.


In Scandinavia, the Arctic fox is among animals under pressure since climate change is reducing the availability of its main prey, the lemming. And red foxes, bigger than their Arctic cousins, are moving north as temperatures warm.

"In a bad lemming year there won't be many Arctic foxes born," Anouschka Hof, of Umea University in Sweden told the GBIF, which is funded by governments. Arctic foxes turn white in winter and brown in summer.

Warming temperatures are also be a threat to many northern plants. The northern bilberry, for instance, may gain niches such as on the coast of Greenland in coming decades but will lose far bigger areas to the south.

"There are not many place where the northern plants can move into. The Arctic is mainly ocean," said Inger Greve Alsos of the University of Tromsoe in Norway. "We expect a loss of range for many plants."

Price, of the University of East Anglia in England, said that a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions in coming years, at the latest by 2030, would help buy time to help species adapt to climate change.

"You generally have a halving of the impacts" on wildlife if emissions peak in coming years, he said, compared to policies of letting them keep rising. But he said the benefits of curbs would not be felt worldwide.

An early peak to greenhouse gases would give the biggest respite to animals in places such as the Amazon basin, southern Africa, southern Australia, parts of Russia and Asia.

Plants would also benefit most in the Andes, southern Africa and Australia, according to modeling by the Wallace Initiative, named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-author with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution in 1858.

Governments are aiming to agree a pact by 2015 to slow climate change, entering into force by 2020. China, the United States, India and Russia are the top national emitters of greenhouse gases.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)

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