Tag Archives: forest

Four killed in Cyprus as ‘most destructive’ forest fire rages

Hundreds of firefighters and several firefighting planes deployed as fire rages for a second day in Troodos mountains.

Four people have been found dead as a huge fire raged for a second day in Cyprus, razing tracts of forest in a blaze one official called the worst on record.

The blaze, fanned by strong winds, affected at least 10 communities over an area of 50 square km (19 square miles) and destroyed several homes in the foothills of the Troodos mountain range, an area of pine forest and densely vegetated shrubland.

The victims, thought to be Egyptian nationals and agricultural workers, were found dead close to Odou, a mountainous community north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca.

“All indications point to it being the four persons who were missing since yesterday,” Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Sunday.

“We are experiencing the most destructive fire since the founding of the Cyprus republic in both material damage, but also unfortunately in terms of human lives,” Nouris said.

Nouris said firefighting aircraft and ground crews are focusing their efforts on two massive fire fronts between the villages of Odou and Vavatsinia. He said authorities are “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll make progress in beating back the flames, but strong wings expected later in the day could hamper efforts.

He said 36 people who had been evacuated from their homes have been taken to hotels in the capital, Nicosia, while food and water is being supplied to Melini village residents.

Hundreds of firefighters and 11 firefighting planes have been fighting to stop the blaze, the state radio broadcaster RIK reported.

Residents of villages watch a fire in the Larnaca mountain region [Petros Karadjias/AP Photo]

The European Union’s executive institution, the European Commission, said firefighting planes had departed from Greece to battle the fire. Italy and Israel are also reportedly deploying aerial firefighters to help Cyprus.

The EU’s emergency Copernicus satellite was also activated to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas, the Commission said in a statement.

“It is the worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus,” Forestries Department Director Charalambos Alexandrou told Cyprus’s Omega TV.

Attempts were being made to prevent the blaze from crossing the mountains and stop it before reaching Machairas, a pine forestland and one of the highest peaks in Cyprus.

The cause of the fire, which started about midday on Saturday, was unclear. Cyprus experiences high temperatures and drought in the summer months, with temperatures in recent days exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Police said they were questioning a 67-year-old person in connection with the blaze.

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Read more here >>> Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

‘Worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus!’ Island calls for foreign aid amid heatwave

For about a week, Cyprus has experienced a scorching heatwave with temperatures reaching up to 40C.

Charalambos Alexandrou, Director of the Department of Forests, told Omega TV: “It is the worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus.”

He added the perimeter of the inferno stretched for “at least 40km (25 miles)”.

Vassos Vassiliou, a community leader in Arakapas, described the fire as a “whirlwind.

“It destroyed everything,” he said.

Cypriot authorities have reached out to the EU and Israel for assistance in tackling the wildfire which has been burning since around midday on Saturday.

The call for aid came after the enormous wildfire intensified while burning north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades wrote on Twitter: “This is a very difficult day for Cyprus.

“All of the state’s mechanisms are in gear, and the priority is for no loss of life.”

READ MORE: Greece slams EU travel ban on Britons

Several helicopters and firefighting planes are already trying to control the inferno and hope to prevent it from crossing a mountainous region and ravaging the Machairas Forest.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear.

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Author: Oliver Trapnell
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: World Feed

Indigenous languages hold the keys to medicinal forest libraries

Of the world’s 7,400 languages, over 30 percent are expected to be lost by the end of the century. With those languages, unique Indigenous plant medicinal insights are likely to be erased as well, according to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

An analysis of 236 Indigenous languages in three of the world’s most biodiverse regions found that over 75 percent of 12,495 plant medicinal attributes documented in these areas are exclusive to a specific language.

“If these languages disappear, we’ll lose this index to the forest library,” says study co-author Rodrigo Cámara-Leret, a researcher studying biological and cultural diversity at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “We can read the landscape thanks to the information compiled by native peoples,” he says.

The study authors mapped the links between the loss of languages and the loss of ecological knowledge. To do so, they identified medicinal plant species and their uses documented in three of the most biodiverse regions in the world—Amazonia, New Guinea, and North America. The researchers then grouped each recorded medicinal plant service by language into one of 20 broad categories of cures, from digestion problems to infections to poisoning. Unique knowledge was defined as a medicinal service cited exclusively by a specific Indigenous language. 

They found that it wasn’t the species in these cures that are under threat—but the vernacular of the unique knowledge themselves. Since languages with unique knowledge are scattered throughout the linguistic phylogenetic tree, “It’s not enough to protect a family of languages [in one major branch], we need to look across the entire diversity of the linguistic tree,” says study co-author Jordi Bascompte, an ecologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. 

Interestingly, high biodiversity regions, which cover 25 percent of Earth’s terrestrial surface, also contain roughly 70 percent of the world’s known languages, according to a 2012 study. Researchers debate whether this pattern occurs because competition for a bounty of resources generates greater linguistic diversity or if those diverse resources reduce the need to communicate and share with other groups. 

[Related: Local languages are dying out and taking invaluable knowledge with them.]

However, only six percent of land-based plants have so far been evaluated for their medically relevant traits, such as anti-cancer or anti-microbial activity.  At the same time, the growing global herbal medicine market—expected to reach a valuation of $ 411.2 billion by the year 2026—offers an economic incentive to preserve this knowledge.

Nokwanda Makunga, a medicinal plant biologist at Stellenbosch University in Capetown, South Africa, says there are around 5,000-6,000 species utilized as ethnobotanicals, or plants used as medicine by Indigenous cultures, in Africa. At least 60-70 percent of the South African population uses plants as a primary source of healthcare. “We haven’t gone deep enough to characterize the medicinal properties of plants,” she says. At the same time, she has witnessed the loss of traditional ecological information as regional dialects disappear. Exacerbating the loss, the South African government doesn’t even recognize the languages of some aboriginal people in the area.

Makunga says medicinal plant knowledge isn’t always shared with non-native speakers. “For a long time, the practice of traditional medicines in South Africa was totally outlawed. It was illegal to carry herbs. It was witchcraft,” she says. Further, she adds, the subtle details that maximize a plant’s medicinal qualities—such as preparation, when to harvest, which plant part is most efficacious—can easily be lost.   

Unfortunately, linguistic studies don’t typically focus on botanical information. Zach O’Hagan, a postdoctoral scholar in linguistics at University of California at Berkeley, recently inherited a treasure trove of Amazonian audio recordings, field diaries, and notes of former Florida Atlantic University anthropologist Gerald Weiss. 

O’Hagan says the high level of ethnobiological information captured in Weiss’s collection is quite rare in the documentation of Indigenous languages. For example, efforts were made to document common and scientific names for species and compare the information to other dialects of the Ashaninka language, the largest language family in the Amazon.

O’Hagan cautions, however, that the loss of ethnobiological knowledge can long precede the loss of language. “We can have language vitality with knowledge gaps,” agrees  Carolyn O’Meara, who studies Indigenous languages at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. “There’s a lot more subtlety at work, especially in areas where kids are still acquiring the language to some extent, but maybe no one’s using plants for medicinal purposes because they have a clinic in their village.”

Cámara-Leret hopes this study will trigger more in-depth, interdisciplinary research focused on endangered knowledge that simultaneously gives a voice to local communities. This sentiment is shared—the United Nations declared 2022-2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to draw attention to the urgent need to preserve and revitalize these languages as a way to empower their speakers. “If [more research] could help to identify the most at-risk cultures, that would be really beautiful,” he says.

Author: Sara Kiley Watson
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Human: Fall Flat Now Optimized for Xbox Series X|S Plus New Forest Level Out Now

Summary

  • Human: Fall Flat is now Optimized for Xbox Series X|S with Smart Delivery support.
  • Cross play on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC following the new update.
  • Grab your friends and explore lush woodland and snowy hilltops in new level Forest!

Today, brand-new level Forest arrives in Human: Fall Flat. This Worldwide Workshop competition-winning dreamscape offers more than your average camping trip, with crashed planes to clamber over, heavy machinery to control and cold climate conundrums to solve.

Designed by community creator Jack, the new Forest level takes our Humans on a woodland tour with a difference, jam packed with fiendish minecart puzzles, mountain climbing and massive ravines to cross.

What’s more, Human: Fall Flat is now Optimized for Xbox Series X|S with Smart Delivery support (existing owners can upgrade to the next-gen version for free), with a new update enabling players to cross play with friends on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC. Owners on Windows PC will also find their version of the game massively expanded from today with the levels Thermal, Factory, Golf, City, and Forest added for free!

There are now 17 levels in Human: Fall Flat and we’re still not done! We have lots of plans for the rest of 2021 including new level releases and skins all coming to your game, at no additional cost. Keep up to date by following us on Twitter @HumanFallFlat, our Discord channel here, or watch the latest trailers on our YouTube channel here.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the Human: Fall Flat community who help shape the future of our game.

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Human Fall Flat

Curve Digital

240
$ 19.99 $ 9.99
PC Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass
***NEW LEVEL ‘FOREST’ AVAILABLE NOW*** Crossplay with friends on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Windows 10. Includes 17 great levels. Over 25million units sold across all formats. The great outdoors is calling! Grab your friends and explore lush woodland and snowy hilltops in search of rest and relaxation in new level Forest! Mystery and mayhem are just round the corner, not to mention crashed planes and heavy machinery. Did somebody take a wrong turn? Human: Fall Flat is a hilarious, light-hearted physics platformer set in a world of floating dreamscapes. Each dream level provides a new environment to navigate, from mansions, castles and Aztec adventures to snowy mountains, eerie nightscapes and industrial locations. Multiple routes through each level, and perfectly playful puzzles ensure exploration and ingenuity are rewarded. This game leverages Smart Delivery allowing access to both the Xbox One title and the Xbox Series X|S title.

Author: Nick Powell, Product Manager, Curve Digital
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Exploring the Forest with Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia

Author: Bartek Kossakowski, Marketing Manager, RedDeerGames
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Summary

  • There are hundreds of beautiful illustrations in the game.
  • The game seems like an old-school cartoon, but you can easily recognize all the plants and animals.
  • After playing Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia, visits to the forest will no longer be the same.

Today Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia debuts on Xbox consoles. The kids of our team members had a great time playing it. That’s obvious. However, I was strongly surprised by how much this game helped me to appreciate a trip to a real forest.

First Contact

When I was around 5-10 years old, I enjoyed trips to the forest, but if I couldn’t see much depth there.

The appearance of some animal was certainly an exciting event, but I used to just divide trees into deciduous and coniferous, and other plants – into those with which you can get stabbed and those that are relatively safe.

Little Mouse's Encyclopedia

The Mad Botanist

When we started working with Circus Atos on the Xbox version of Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia here at RedDeerGames, one of my first tasks was to go through all the illustrations that are in the game.

These are hundreds of leaves, stems, flower buds, roots, trunks, and branches. I viewed them under close-up and with great interest, feeling a bit like a mad botanist.

Little Mouse's Encyclopedia

Bringing Images to Life

Tereza Vostradovská, the author of the illustrations for the game, did an amazing job. The game seems like an old-school cartoon, but at the same time you can easily recognize all the plants and animals. They are full of details and quite realistic.

“I was trying to find some simple way to present nature as a recognizable system,” Tereza explains. “But still with some stylization point in it. This was the hardest thing. The main influences were some Czech animators and artist like Bedřich Pojar, Zdeněk Miler or Jiří Trnka.”

“Also, we have a big game background like Amanita studio that is for me a big inspiration,” Tereza adds. “All illustrations are handmade, it is watercolor on the paper. I painted all the animals, plants, and backgrounds on a separate layer then scanned it and made the whole scenes on my computer. Kind of demanding technique.”

Little Mouse's Encyclopedia

Forest meditation

My next visit to the forest, after playing Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia, was not the same as the previous ones. I found myself slowly exploring the place. I started paying attention to the smells, to the textures of the plants, and I realized that I’m listening to individual sounds of nature with my eyes closed.

I searched for what I remember from the game. I looked around for anthills. And I thought how beautiful it is that it houses more than 1 million ants. I looked for male ferns and mosses. And I really enjoyed their presence.

Young explorer

There are some games that I have a lot of fun with, but I finish them and forget about them. Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia stayed with me for a long time, and after I turned off the console the experience was still going on – in the real world.

For more details on Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia follow us on Twitter!

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Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia

RedDeerGames

1
$ 12.99 $ 10.39
Xbox One X Enhanced
INTERACTIVE ENCYCLOPEDIA Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia is perfect for born explorers. Wandering around the lively boards, you’ll find animals and plants by yourself. Using a magnifying glass, you can reveal cards that contain interesting information and drawings. GEORGEUS ILLUSTRATIONS The graphic style of Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia was inspired by classic fairy tales and… children’s encyclopedias. This enchanting and original style makes the exploration even more enjoyable, and various animations breathe life into the surroundings. RELAXING MUSIC While playing, listen to pleasant, relaxing music and the sounds of nature, such as birds chirping or frog toads. EXPLORE THE WORLD With a brave mouse you’ll explore the area around its burrow, walk through the forest, sneak through the garden and swim in the pond. In each of these places, unique species of animals and plants await you. SO MUCH TO DISCOVER! During your wandering you’ll come across over 160 unique species, about which you can learn something interesting. AVAILABLE IN MANY LANGUAGES Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia is available in 18 languages, including English, Japanese, German, Spanish and French. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary world of nature today with the brave little mouse!

Google Maps Street View: Weird, giant creature lurking in forest scares viewers

Google Maps Street View often captures some rather bizarre happenings around the world. The online programme offers users the opportunity to discover locations around the world from street level.
The figure stands about as tall as a human – but that’s where similarities end.

From its back sprout a pair of wings, flapping out either side of the being.

On either side of its head are two huge, glowing orbs. They appear to be eyes.

This creature looks like a giant fly, only much larger than a typical blue bottle or house fly.

How did this bug become so large?

While the scene unfolds in a wildlife reserve, this certainly is not a creature native to the West Virginia area.

Instead, it is a prankster in costume, who according to some Reddit users is dubbed “Mothman”.

Though his bizarre features might be a joke, one user said they found it “scary”.

“The only possible explanation I can think of is that somebody caught the Mothman and chained him to this spot! So scary!” they wrote.

Another said: “The Mothman found on Google Maps!”

“The Mothman” is actually West Virginia folklore, dating back to news reports in 1966 of a creature which lurked in the Point Pleasant area.

The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, with the headline: “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something.”

The story was then written about in a 1975 book by John Keel called “The Mothman Prophecies”.

In 2002, Richard Gere starred in a film adaptation of Keel’s book.

There is now an annual festival in the area which celebrates this odd legend.