Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mud Monsters: Soil Sculpture in Soil Science Communication

Two friends of mine, a soil scientist and a designer, have worked together to create a free public sculpture exhibition educating people about Alpine Soil and salt in the High Country of Australia.

"These sculptures are based on research by Richard Hocking about the effects of salt on our alpine bogs and reflect the findings that soils in the bogs hold on to salt as it flows down from the roads.

Viveka’s work focuses on the intersection of creative practice, research and sustainability. She studied at the College of Fine Art and is soon to complete her PhD at ANU.

Materials: Adobe, PVC pipe, garden solar lights

Lakelight Sculptures: Lake Jindabyne, Easter 2011"

If you are around Jindabyne, drop past and have a look at the sculptures. If not, perhaps you have been inspired to make your own soil sculpture!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mining and Environment: A Cross Section of Sources

Everyone  has a different slant on mining, environment and sustainability: whether it be 'no no no' or 'yes yes yes' or even 'yes, but...', you will find them all online.

I read a wide variety of online resources regarding mining and environment. I read ecologist and geologists blogs. I share Twitter conversations with Industry bodies, government officials and NGOs. I keep an eye out on news items from independent and mainstream papers and industry sources. It is fantastic to get a broad range of views, opinions and realities to consider. I thought I would share some of my favourite sources and different opinions/research on mining and the environment from around the world.
Denis Wilson of The Nature of Robertson talks about coal and coal seam gas in his local area. He not only covers some of the ecological and physical changes, but also political-mining connections and the controversy of land uses.

"I will be there to try to stand up for the Rivers, and "Upland Swamps" of the Southern Catchment, and the local farmers whose aquifers are still threatened by the risk of mining by Gujarat NRE (not an immediate threat, but a threat none-the-less). Oh yes, I will be there to stick up for the silent threatened species, especially the Orchids, of course, such as my beloved Kangaloon Sun Orchids from Butler's Swamp, Kangaloon." From Can't Eat Coal, Can't Drink Gas

John Freeman of the American Geophyiscal Union Blogosphere (Terra Central) discusses mining and environment in the USA, including policy issues. His recent blog post on selenium toxicity with phosphate mining may potentially occur in Australia, with phosphate reserves located in Christmas Island, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

"At an Idaho phosphate mine, a lack of understanding of mineral weathering leads to selenium
contamination, a major court ruling, and public liability... More about the technical properties and toxicology of selenium is available here." From Mine Reclamation, Disequilibrium, and Selenium Contamination. 

Australian Mining Magazine now has an online newspaper, with a wide variety of mining, environment, political and policy stories. The newspaper has a range of views, including a recent article on the concern of Camberwell residents in the loss of their public common:

"She said losing the common would potentially force her family to move from the land, reducing profitability as a business. Dust would increase and contaminate the dairy’s milk if half the common is used for mining, Maytom said." From Camberwell Residents fight for Common

The New South Wales Minerals Council is always on Twitter and sending out press releases on latest developments regarding policy, politics, environment and land use. A recent speech by Dr Nikki Williams regarding the opening of the Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices has some very good points on mining rehabilitation:

"..sustainability is not merely about restoration, it is about building something new." 

Another of my favourite resources is from the Post Mining Alliance. The Alliance looks at economic, environmental and socially sustainable post-mining landscapes. The book '101 things to do with a hole in the ground' by Georgina Pearman looks at some of the positive outcomes in communities post-mining.

"101 Things to Do with a Hole in the Ground celebrates the incredible range of activities that have transformed old mines into new futures. Colour photographs and brief descriptions take the reader on a world tour of heritage and tourism attractions, wildlife habitats, educational, sport and leisure facilities and dozens of industrial uses - demonstrating that mining legacy can be converted from liability to opportunity and benefits for local communities."

There are many resources available about mining and environment. They all have different angles, facts, and opinions. It is interesting to see the wealth of ideas and interests in this topic available online, and to integrate this into our thinking of resource use and environment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fanciful Fungi #7: Fungi and Fairy hunting at Bendora Arboretum

Projectgus and myself decided to go for a Sunday walk around Piccadilly Circus in Namadgi National Park. Bendora Arboretum is the only arboretum left in Namadgi after the 2003 bushfires. Walking through the pines reminded me of being a young girl; hunting for fungus in the pine forest near home. The pines from around the world bring some amazing magical fungus.

These awesome light brown caps almost look like delicious Swiss Brown Mushrooms! Unfortunately, I was unable to find this one in my book. Not sure if you can actually eat them!

These two slightly different Basidiomycota are probably Marasmius elegans, brown and orangey in colour, with different stem colours and often found in native and pine forests.

These grey specimens are probably a Tricholoma species, maybe T. virgatum. They are conical and become flat and crack with age. They are also often found in pine forest.

Another of my favourites, the Lactarius deliciosus or Saffron Milk Cap. It is an edible fungus, which is a rich orange colour and vibrant orange dots on the stems. It is known to live along with pines. 

These two specimens are most likely mature dark Agaricus augustus. It is an edible fungi, and can have a unpleasant smell when raw.

This is the second Phlebopus marginatus I have found; the other was at Tidbinbilla. This is a much smaller specimen of the fleshy-pore fungi. The largest on record was 29kg from western Victoria. They are often found in eucalyptus forest and are well loved by flies!

I am very excited to have found this puffball. It is a Lycoperdon perlatum, white and darkening with age. It is often found in leaf litter in forest. Its puffball head can be popped to release the spores. 

I have seen this beauty many times before. Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric is a toadstool from childhood. They remind me of my childhood; walking through the pine forest near my house and pretending the red and white toadstools were home to fairies.

Not sure what to do with the kids for a day? Take then fungus hunting. They may even find a fairy house!

Happy fungus hunting!