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"With current trends towards gebuy cardano blockchainneral invertebrate decline, we need to support as many pollinators as possible," says Skipp.Fast forward
"For centuries, trees have been pollarded – cut and allowed to regrow. This encourages new growth and was used to produce fodder for livestock and timber," says Rutter. "The trees grew hollow inside and we’ve now found that they are rich habitats for some very demanding species of beetle and other insects. Veteranisation is based on this idea."Veteranisation is the practice of damaging younger trees in order to initiate decay sooner than it would occur naturally. The hope is that habitats usually seen in older trees will begin to develop much earlier. Veteranisation is not new, explains Rutter, but it is not well documented. Only recently has research been initiated to monitor the success of veteranisation techniques.An international trial, started in 2012 and set over 20 sites in Sweden, England and Norway, is in the process of evaluating the veteranisation of almost 1,000 oak trees. The methods applied include creating woodpecker-like holes, breaking or ringbarking lower branches or the trunk to mimic damage from animals such as deer or horses, and creating nest boxes for birds and bats. The project is planned to take 25 years, until 2037, so the results have yet to be fully analysed."The signs are very promising," said Rutter. "Most of the trees are responding well, healing and continuing to grow. Birds, bats and insects have all been found living in the artificially created niches."Back in the UK, Ancients of the Future has been trialling these same methods on beech and oak trees. Rutter says, after two years, cavities are starting to appear. "Normally, you’d have to wait for a lightning strike or a limb falling off for the decaying process to start. That can take hundreds of years. These are vigorous, young trees and niches are already beginning to develop."
The violet click beetle, present at just three sites in the UK, is the main target of Skipp’s study. They require wet wood mould at the base of beech trees. Skipp has been installing beetle boxes for them – wooden structures designed to mimic hollows that form at the base of ancient trees. The boxes have an entrance at ground level and are filled with decaying wood, similar to the nutrient-rich wood mould that you might find naturally."This beetle requires high-quality habitats," she says. "So by protecting it, you are conserving important features that benefit a whole suite of other species too."Australia's Victoria state has shut construction sites across Melbourne following a violent protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines.
The protest on Monday was against a requirement for staff to prove they had received a vaccine dose to access their workplace.Officials said some sites would be shut for up to two weeks after construction workers and other protesters clashed.Property was damaged and police said several people were arrested.Hundreds gathered in Melbourne for another anti-vaccination protest on Tuesday, setting off flares and reportedly throwing urine at reporters.
On Monday, riot police were deployed and reportedly used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse crowds.It comes following an announcement that from Thursday 23 September construction workers will be required to show proof that they have had at least one vaccine dose in order to continue to work, local media report.
The CFMEU condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the attack on its Melbourne office, where members had shown up in support of the government mandate, saying the violence occurred after the protest was "infiltrated" by right-wing groups.Some of its members were injured during the clashes, the union said in a statement, adding that bottles were thrown at officials.In a Facebook post, the Master Builders Association of Victoria said all building and construction industry sites in metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, Surf Coast, Ballarat and the Mitchell Shire had to close from midnight Monday.It said this was in response to a combination of a rise in Covid-19 transmissions in the building industry and the "riots" in Melbourne.
The association added that while the construction shutdown was scheduled to last for two weeks, sites would be able to reopen earlier if lockdown measures were lifted by regional governments.With a relatively low Covid-19 death rate, Australia has been praised for its efforts controlling the virus.The country has so far recorded just over 87,000 cases of Covid-19, and 1,167 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University data.However, about half the population has recently been placed in lockdown due to outbreaks in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, with the Delta variant causing cases to rise more rapidly.
Kabul is a city still waiting for its new life to take shape - a lot depends on the will and whims of its new Taliban masters. But it is hunger that could become the worst of Afghanistan's many crises.For the poor of the city, the majority, scraping together a few hundred Afghanis, a couple of dollars, to stave off starvation is the biggest challenge.
Millions live in desperate poverty in a country that has received huge sums in foreign aid. The money left over that might help them, around $9bn in central bank reserves, is frozen by the Americans to keep it away from the Taliban.At dawn, hundreds of construction workers gather in one of Kabul's open-air markets with their tools looking for a day's work.
Big building projects in the city have stopped. The banks are closed. The foreign money tap has been turned off. What is left amounts to a few drips.A handful of the construction workers get picked up for work. The rest are getting angry. One of the men, Hayat Khan, raged about the fortunes stolen by a corrupt elite in the last 20 years."Wealthy people think about themselves, not the poor. I can't even buy bread. Believe me I cannot find a single dollar and the rest of the rich people put the aid dollars from the West in their pockets."No-one cares for the poor people. When aid comes from outside, the people in power made sure it went to their relatives, not to the poor."Mohammed Anwar, lucky enough to have an office job, stopped to listen to my interviews with the building workers, and then chipped in, speaking English, accusing the Americans of theft."In the name of Allah, we call on America to give us the money they have taken from the Afghan government. It must be used to rebuild Afghanistan."
At that point a Taliban official, a forceful man with a bushy black beard intervened. He told us to leave the area, saying it was dangerous.I had not detected any sense of threat, but it was not the time and place to argue. He was shadowed by a Taliban bodyguard wearing wraparound sunglasses, in the US military style, and carrying a US-made assault rifle.
The movement's fighters are very visible in the centre of the capital of the republic they have renamed as an Islamic emirate. At the airport they are dressed in American uniforms.Across the city they are more likely to wear much more familiar traditional dress like the shalwar kameez and dusty black turbans. All of them carry assault rifles.
The most common lament I heard in Kabul in the last week was about the price of food and the desperation of parents who are struggling to feed their children. Food prices are rocketing. Millions struggle to feed their families.Markets have sprung up across the city, as people who had managed to accumulate a few trappings of prosperity in the old Afghanistan sell their possessions to raise a little cash, mostly for food.
I saw carts arriving carrying the contents of peoples' homes, from valuable carpets or TVs to jumbles of crockery and cutlery. One man was selling a rubber plant. Many were selling and few were buying. There isn't the cash. The sprawling second-hand markets are full of despair.Threats to personal freedom, girls' education and the right of women to work have been condemned across the world. But the prospect of going to bed hungry has an urgency all of its own.Countries that want to help Afghans but reject the Taliban and all it stands for face a big dilemma. For people to be able to work to earn money, to live and to eat, the Taliban has to run a viable state in Afghanistan.But many in the US, Britain and the other countries that fought the Taliban would find it hard to stomach anything that looked like a success for their old enemies.
The alternative might be worse; the prospect of more misery for the people, more refugees, more malnourished children, the risk that Afghanistan will once again become a failed state and a land of opportunity for jihadist extremists.A community high above the city carries the scars of 40 years of war. So do the families who live here. War punctuates all their stories.
One of the families has had enough. Their flat was almost empty, the possessions sold at the second-hand markets to raise money for them all to leave for Pakistan.The mother, who I'm not going to name, was the only breadwinner, teaching students electrical engineering. They are all male, so the Taliban stopped her working, and also stopped her youngest daughter's education.
She was composed and determined, but her voice thickened with sobs when I asked her how hard it was to leave her home."I am so sad. My heart has been burning since the day I made the decision to leave. How could I have done it - but what could I do?
"If we stay, I don't think they will let us work or allow us education. How can I feed my family? I can tolerate going hungry. But I can't watch my kids starve."Their dreams were always fragile in a state riddled with corruption, which could not survive the departure of its foreign backers.Afghanistan's newest crisis is about fundamentals of life - food, security and hope - and the despair and anger when they have gone.At the age of eight, Leon Portz was gradually losing his eyesight due to a congenital condition when he was given his first computer. By the age of nine, he had figured out how to speed up the machine-generated voice that read out websites and other electronic texts, allowing him to grasp the information faster. He now listens to texts at five times the standard speed, which is unintelligible to an untrained ear.
But his love of science only truly flourished when he moved from his hometown in central Germany to the nearby town of Marburg, a leafy, medieval university town, to attend a specialist school for the blind. As it turned out, that move transported him into a hotbed of inclusive innovation.Marburg proudly calls itself a "Blindenstadt", a city for blind and visually impaired people, due to its long history as a hub for accessibility. A ground-breaking educational institute for the blind, the Blindenstudienanstalt (or Blista) in German, was founded here during World War One, to provide opportunities for young men blinded in the war. The institute has spawned countless inventions for blind people since then, including a tactile mathematical font. It has also profoundly shaped the town around it, turning it into a place where, as Portz puts it, "everything is ideal for blind people".
Some of the innovations that make Marburg so accessible also exist elsewhere. But the way they are joined up here is unique, Portz and other blind people who have lived in the town say. The clattering sound of guiding canes is ubiquitous in Marburg, as blind people navigate the town aided by beeping traffic lights, pavements and floors with ridges and bumps that act as tactile signals of hazards or barriers. Buildings often have raised maps and floor plans, while detailed miniature bronze models of major sights such as Marburg's castle and town square allow blind visitors to feel the entirety of each landmark.Other convenient features are a result of the town's natural shape. Marburg is small and hilly, making it easy to orient yourself simply by noting if you are going up- or downhill. A web of accessible leisure facilities spans the city, such as a horse-riding school for the blind, and blind rowing, football, climbing and skiing clubs. The town's university has Germany's highest proportion of blind students, and the widest range of degrees taken by blind people.
The Blista and its students have driven many of these innovations, developing everyday aids such as a foldable cane, but also, working with the university to improve accessibility across departments. Law and psychology are among the most popular course choices, as the materials are text-heavy and can be studied easily with aids such as screen readers. Now teachers and pupils from the institute are prising open another field: the natural sciences, which have long been beset by barriers for blind people."I don't feel like a pioneer, but I guess I am one," says Portz, who is studying biochemistry and computer science in Düsseldorf. He is the first blind biochemistry student there, and by his own estimate, one of fewer than a handful of blind chemistry students in all of Germany.