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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall, New Zealand.
The natural environment comprises all naturally occurring surroundings and conditions in which living things grow and interact on Earth. These include complete landscape units that function as natural systems without major human intervention, as well as plants, animals, rocks, and natural phenomena occurring within their boundaries. They also include non-local or universal natural resources that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water and climate.

The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

As human population numbers increase and as humans continue to evolve, human activity modifies the natural environment at a rapidly increasing rate, producing what is referred to as the built environment. The potential of the natural environment to sustain these anthropogenic changes while continuing to function as an ecosystem is an issue of major worldwide concern. Key environmental areas of interest include climate change, water supply and waste water, air pollution, waste management and hazardous waste, and land use issues such as deforestation, desertification, and urban sprawl.

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Slow lorises, such as this Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) were once considered common, but are now recognized as threatened species
Slow lorises are nocturnal strepsirrhine primates in the genus Nycticebus and live in the rainforests of South AsiaSouth and Southeast Asia. They are threatened by deforestation and the wildlife trade, including the exotic pet trade, traditional medicine, and use as bushmeat. Threats such as habitat fragmentation, selective logging, and slash and burn agriculture drastically reduced the population size of the slow lorises. the five species of slow loris are listed as either "Vulnerable" or "Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Because of their rapidly declining populations and local extinctions, their status was updated and in 2007 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) elevated them to Appendix I, which prohibits international commercial trade. Local laws also protect slow lorises from hunting and trade, but enforcement is lacking in most areas.

A large number of slow lorises are traded as pets, both locally and internationally, although it is illegal to import slow lorises for commercial sale, they are popular exotic pets in Japan, the United States, and Europe, largely due to their "cute" appearance. Hundreds of slow lorises have been confiscated at airports, but because they are easy to hide, these numbers are likely to be only a small fraction of the total number being trafficked.

Connected protected areas are important for the conservation of slow lorises because these primates are not suited for traveling long distances on the ground. Training for enforcement officials helps improve identification and the awareness of their legal protection. Sanctuaries and rescue facilities are available to provide both temporary and lifelong care for confiscated slow lorises. Zoos' captive breeding programs saw some successes.

Did you know...

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Mai Po Marshes serves as a stop for migrating birds.
Credit: Baycrest

Mai Po Marshes is a nature reserve in Hong Kong. It is managed by World Wide Fund for Nature, the marshes have an area of about 1800 acres and is listed as a Ramsar site under Ramsar Convention in 1995. It provides a conservation area for mammals, reptiles, insects, and over 350 kinds of birds (including Saunders's Gull and a quarter of world's Black-faced Spoonbill population). It also has inter-tidal mangroves along with 24 traditionally operated shrimp ponds (called Gei Wai locally) to provide food for the birds, it receives 40,000 visitors annually.

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The panel was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

One of the main activities of the IPCC is to publish special reports on topics where it supports the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is essentially the document behind the Kyoto Protocol, it bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. The IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

The stated aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IPCC does not carry out research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change; implementation of the UNFCCC led eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature, the IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

IPCC reports are widely cited in almost any debate related to climate change. National and international responses to climate change generally regard the UN climate panel as authoritative, the summary reports (i.e. Summary for Policymakers), which draw the most media attention, include review by participating governments in addition to scientific review.

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Franklin Roosevelt
A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.

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