Back from the brink: how biocontrol saved St Helena’s national tree from extinction

Gumwoods of St Helena
The gumwoods of St Helena are flourishing again after facing extinction

By Wayne Coles

At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.

In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.

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This World Environment Day it’s time to beat plastic pollution

Discarded plastic waste. Image credit: Ben_Kerckx via Pixabay

World Environment Day, held annually on 5th June, is considered to be the UN’s most important day for promoting global awareness and action to protect the environment.  This year’s theme is one that shines a spotlight on what has become a particularly hot topic over the last year – plastic pollution.   Coincidentally, it was also the theme of this year’s Earth Day and will be the focus of World Oceans Day on June 8 and all for good reason.

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Urban trees – an air pollution solution?

Central_parkImage: Unsplash,

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day – November 3rd 2016

November 3rd 2016 will be host to the first ever One Health Day, an international campaign that aims to bring attention to how planetary health challenges are addressed.  It may not be obvious, but public health and the environment are inextricably interlinked.  The physical environment, which includes housing, sanitation, drinking water and air, has significant effects on human health and well-being.  Therefore, effective management of the environment is important, so that potential health issues can be avoided.  With this in mind, the focus of this blog is urban air pollution, its impact on health, and how trees could help improve the air quality in towns and cities.

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New sustainable development goals for 2030

This past weekend world leaders gathered at a United Nations Global Summit in New York to make the world a better place to live by 2030. They signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ratified 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The new goals will become applicable from January 2016 and are expected to influence political policy worldwide for the next 15 years. The SDGs replace and extend the targets of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs), which were initiated in 2000 and wrapped up in a final report earlier this year.

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TTIP and its potential impacts on health in Europe

Pixabay_business-361488_640Concern is rising in the European public health community about the TTIP trade agreement, an agreement being negotiated between the US and the EU Commission to reduce barriers to trade. While there may be economic benefits, the agreement could have a health and environmental cost. The public health and environmental communities think it will weaken the power of governments to make laws to protect their citizens’ health and the environment.

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Climate of changing public opinion

This week is Climate Week in the UK, which aims to get the public involved in thinking about climate change. In the scientific community, there is an increasing level of consensus about climate change and the need to take drastic action to limit severe consequences. However, in order to introduce challenging policies, there must be public support. In a paper in CAB Reviews, Ashley Cobb and Michael Carolan from Colorado State University, look at trends in public attitudes, and consider their implications for plans to mitigate climate change impacts.


US media coverage of climate change has been a double-edge sword, in that while it has raised awareness about climate change by increasing perceived knowledge, it has also suggested scientific disagreement on the issue, despite the consensus amongst climatologists.

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Can Haiti’s struggling agro-economy recover?

The earthquake that hit Haiti may have killed as many as 200,000, and delivering food to survivors is proving very difficult. However, Haiti was already suffering from major problems in trying to feed itself well before the earthquake struck, as detailed in many papers on CAB Abstracts.

Haiti has a notable problem of food security, write Furio Massolino and Andrea Pardini from Movimondo, Italy in an paper in CAB Abstracts. Even before the earthquake, 48% of people had insufficient food, food prices doubled from 1980 and 1990 and further increased 5 times between 1991 and 2000, they report. Water availability and quality is another problems to be added to food insufficiency. Haiti is among the countries with the biggest sub nutrition and global malnutrition rates at a world-wide level says Dixis Figueroa Pedraza of the Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Brazil.

Earthquake damage in a poor area of Port-Au-Prince (UNDP)

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