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Dicks L.V.,University of Cambridge | Biesmeijer J.,University of Leeds | Biesmeijer J.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Bourn N.,Butterfly Conservation | And 46 more authors.
Insect Conservation and Diversity | Year: 2013

In response to evidence of insect pollinator declines, organisations in many sectors, including the food and farming industry, are investing in pollinator conservation. They are keen to ensure that their efforts use the best available science. We convened a group of 32 'conservation practitioners' with an active interest in pollinators and 16 insect pollinator scientists. The conservation practitioners include representatives from UK industry (including retail), environmental non-government organisations and nature conservation agencies. We collaboratively developed a long list of 246 knowledge needs relating to conservation of wild insect pollinators in the UK. We refined and selected the most important knowledge needs, through a three-stage process of voting and scoring, including discussions of each need at a workshop. We present the top 35 knowledge needs as scored by conservation practitioners or scientists. We find general agreement in priorities identified by these two groups. The priority knowledge needs will structure ongoing work to make science accessible to practitioners, and help to guide future science policy and funding. Understanding the economic benefits of crop pollination, basic pollinator ecology and impacts of pesticides on wild pollinators emerge strongly as priorities, as well as a need to monitor floral resources in the landscape. © 2012 The Royal Entomological Society.

News Article
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2014 file photo, a fuel nozzle for E-85, left, and traditional gasoline is seen at a gas station in Batesville, Miss. The Obama administration is boosting the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply. That's despite sustained opposition by an unusual alliance of oil companies, environmentalists and some GOP presidential candidates. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

More WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is boosting the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply despite sustained opposition by an unusual alliance of oil companies, environmentalists and some GOP presidential candidates. The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a final rule designed to increase production of ethanol to be blended with gasoline through 2016, a decision that could reverberate in Iowa's crucial presidential caucuses. The agency said it will require more than 18 billion gallons of renewable fuels, most of it ethanol, in 2016. The amount is less than was set in a 2007 renewable fuels law, but more than was proposed by the EPA in May. The decision doesn't necessarily mean a higher percentage of ethanol in an individual driver's tank, and isn't likely to have much effect on gas prices. But it does mean there will a higher supply of the homegrown fuel overall. Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said the renewable fuels industry is "an incredible American success story" and the 2016 targets are a signal it is growing. "It's all about more choice and making those fuels more available" to consumers, she said. More renewable fuels are good news for farm country. But ethanol critics say the levels are too high. Oil companies have spent many years fighting the 2007 law, saying the market, not the government, should determine how much ethanol is blended into their gas. Environmental groups say farmers growing large amounts of corn for ethanol are tearing up the land. And conservatives like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, call the government's longtime support for ethanol "corporate welfare." The renewable fuels law sought to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and bolster the rural economy by requiring a steady increase in the overall amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels blended into gasoline over time. The Renewable Fuel Standard, as it is called, sets out specific yearly targets. Since then, the EPA has said the standards set by the law cannot be fully reached due partly to limits on the amount of renewable fuels other than ethanol that can be produced. Next-generation biofuels, made from agricultural waste such as wood chips and corncobs, have not taken off as quickly as Congress required and the administration expected. Still, the new rule setting targets for 2015, 2016 and retroactively for 2014 would represent an overall increase in the use of renewable fuels. The new standards come as President Barack Obama and other world leaders are meeting in Paris to finalize an agreement to cut carbon emissions worldwide, and the administration says this will help achieve that goal. Some studies have called into question whether that is the case, however. The new targets are a victory for the ethanol industry, which aggressively pushed back on a 2013 proposal that would have decreased the amount of ethanol mixed into fuel. After the announcement, some ethanol companies and farm groups said they were pleased the EPA had increased the numbers from previous proposals. But they still expressed frustration that the standards were less than in the law, something the agency has the power to do if it thinks the goals cannot be met. Failing to meet the standards is "to the detriment of economic prosperity in rural America," said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. Farm-state lawmakers — and some presidential candidates wanting to win over voters in farm states like Iowa — have successfully pushed back on calls from opponents to lower ethanol levels or repeal the standards. So far, critics have had little luck getting past those supporters to change the policy in Congress. In the presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton has called for robust renewable fuels standards, and her fellow Democrats have also been supportive. While some GOP presidential candidates like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have spoken about maintaining higher levels of renewable fuels, others like Cruz have denounced the policy. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has positioned himself somewhere in the middle, saying the standard should not be repealed after many have made investments, but it should be eventually phased out. Iowa, host of the leadoff presidential caucuses next year, produces more ethanol than any other state. But as national security and the economy have eclipsed farming issues in many rural areas, some candidates, like Cruz, have felt comfortable criticizing it and have still fared well in the polls.

Gomez J.A.,CSIC - Institute for Sustainable Agriculture | Llewellyn C.,Cranfield University | Basch G.,University of Evora | Sutton P.B.,Hill International | And 2 more authors.
Soil Use and Management | Year: 2011

Cover crops (CC) in vineyards and olive groves provide an alternative to conventional tillage (CT) for land management. Runoff, sediment and nutrient loss from six sites in France, Spain and Portugal were compared over 3-4yr. In general, runoff loss was not significantly reduced by the CC alternatives: average annual runoff coefficients ranged from 4.9 to 22.8% in CT compared with 1.9-25% in the CC alternatives. However, at two sites, reductions in average annual runoff coefficients were greater for CC: 17.2 and 10.4% in CT, 6.1 and 1.9% in CC. Nutrient loss in runoff followed a similar pattern to runoff, as did pesticide loss on the one site; reductions occurred when runoff losses were significantly reduced by CC. The lack of differences at the other sites is thought to be due to a combination of soil conditions at the surface (compaction and capping) and sub-surface (low-permeability horizons close to the surface). In contrast, CC always resulted in reductions in soil erosion loss, plus similar reductions in nutrients and organic matter (OM) associated with sediment. Soil erosion loss ranged from 1.4 to 90t/ha/yr in CT compared with 0.04-42.7t/ha/yr in CC. Overall, reductions in runoff and associated nutrient and pesticide loss from vineyards and olives occurred with the introduction of CCs only when soil permeability was sufficiently high to reduce runoff. In contrast, reduction in soil erosion and associated nutrients and OM occurred even when the amount of runoff was not reduced. In the most extreme encountered situations (highly erodible soils in vulnerable landscape positions and subject to highly erosive rainfall), additional conservation measures are needed to prevent unsustainable soil loss. © 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2011 British Society of Soil Science.

Gill R.J.,Imperial College London | Baldock K.C.R.,University of Bristol | Brown M.J.F.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Cresswell J.E.,University of Exeter | And 24 more authors.
Advances in Ecological Research | Year: 2015

Insect pollination constitutes an ecosystem service of global importance, providing significant economic and aesthetic benefits as well as cultural value to human society, alongside vital ecological processes in terrestrial ecosystems. It is therefore important to understand how insect pollinator populations and communities respond to rapidly changing environments if we are to maintain healthy and effective pollinator services. This chapter considers the importance of conserving pollinator diversity to maintain a suite of functional traits and provide a diverse set of pollinator services. We explore how we can better understand and mitigate the factors that threaten insect pollinator richness, placing our discussion within the context of populations in predominantly agricultural landscapes in addition to urban environments. We highlight a selection of important evidence gaps, with a number of complementary research steps that can be taken to better understand: (i) the stability of pollinator communities in different landscapes in order to provide diverse pollinator services; (ii) how we can study the drivers of population change to mitigate the effects and support stable sources of pollinator services and (iii) how we can manage habitats in complex landscapes to support insect pollinators and provide sustainable pollinator services for the future. We advocate a collaborative effort to gain higher quality abundance data to understand the stability of pollinator populations and predict future trends. In addition, for effective mitigation strategies to be adopted, researchers need to conduct rigorous field testing of outcomes under different landscape settings, acknowledge the needs of end-users when developing research proposals and consider effective methods of knowledge transfer to ensure effective uptake of actions. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | January 15, 2014
Site: recode.net

Claremont Creek Ventures will announce later today it added Harsh Patel as a partner at the Oakland venture capital firm, where he will scout for promising startups in health, clean energy and other fields. Specifically, he will focus on companies applying big data, the catchall term for mining vast amounts of information to arrive at new insights and more accurate predictions in these sectors. This has long been a focus area for Patel as a venture capitalist, angel investor, entrepreneur or executive at RRE Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Bina Technologies, Orbit Commerce and, most recently, Foundation Capital. As a general partner at In-Q-Tel, the investment outfit affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency, he led an early-stage investment in Palantir Technologies, the controversial company that helps three-letter intelligence agencies connect the dots in massive data sets. Patel was also the president of Bina Technologies, which applies data analytics to the human genome, crunching information that can hold clues to health risks and personalized treatments. In an interview at the early-stage investment firm’s offices, in the historic Rotunda Building near Oakland’s City Hall, Patel said he will be looking for investment opportunities in highly regulated spaces. These may carry significant risks — but also promise big upsides for companies that offer more efficient ways of doing things. “The big pieces, the gnarly pieces, are energy, health care, government and defense,” he said. “Those aren’t always attractive venture capital areas, but there’s enormous spend.” Claremont managing director Nat Goldhaber said Patel was a natural fit because his expertise and interests overlap significantly with that of the firm. CCV has long invested heavily in clean energy and medical tech companies, including Alphabet Energy, Blue Pillar, CellScope, DNAnexus and Natera. He also said they brought on Patel as a new director to handle a surge in deal flow. Claremont made 13 investments last year and enjoyed a lucrative exit when Outerwall (better known by its earlier name, Coinstar) acquired portfolio company ecoATM for $350 million. “We’re seeing so much great stuff and he had a great background in both genetics and in clean tech as an investor and as an [executive],” Goldhaber said. “That is one of the hallmarks for the foundation of this firm: People with real hands-on experience running things.”

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