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Watching
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic on canvas 8 X 8 in

Another week gone by and we are definitely getting closer to spring and summer! How great is that!!

In my last blog I mentioned that the group Artist for Conservation, which I am a part of, has decided to concentrate its effort in 2018 in bringing to light  endangered bird species, so we decided to get involved in our first international collaborative mural project. This installation will comprise the world’s 678 endangered species of birds and will be the artistic centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress to be held in Vancouver in August 2018.

This is the second species of birds I signed up to do: the Collared laughingthrush(Trochalopteron yersini), which is can be found only on the Da Lat plateau in Vietnam and is on the IUCN red list of endangered species since 2000.

It is a striking colourful bird that features a black hood with a silver ear patch and measures between 26 and 28 cm (10-11 inches). It had already been on the threatened and vulnerable species list since 1988.

There seems to be information missing when it comes to this bird’s habits. Flocks are small, comprising of only 4-8 individuals. It is a resident of “dense undergrowth of primary and evergreen forest, secondary growth and scrub bordering forest” according to IUCN, and occupies a narrow range for altitude (between 1,500 and 2,440 m).

The population has been declining due to habitat loss and degradation but there is a lack of survey in the area to help define the extent of it.

According to IUCN, there has been a government resettlement program that has greatly increased human pressure on the Da Lat plateau. Forest degradation and fragmentation have increased because of it, logging, shifting agriculture, fuel wood collection and charcoal production being the main culprits. In certain areas, all land below 1,500 m is now logged or under cultivation. Higher up, the broadleaf evergreen forest is being cleared for coffee plantations in the “Da Nhim Watershed Protection forest”.

There are conservation efforts underway in Chu Yang Sin and Bi Doup Nui Ba National Parks since 1986, but not nearly enough to ascertain the survival of this beautiful bird since there currently are no real protective measures.

Reference: http://www.iucnredlist.org

To find out more about Collared Laughingtrush click here

For more details on this mural project, click  here

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Banasura laughingtrush
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 8 X 8 in

Today I received the newsletter from David Suzuki.

 

Here we are complaining about our government but in this week’s budget, the government of Canada has demonstrated its commitment to the environment and doing something to protect endangered species and the planet and I am very proud of this.

 

They decided to invest $1.3 billion over the next five years to protect nature, provide financial investments for new parks, protected areas and science to make sure all of this is done properly.

Here are some of the budget highlights provided in the newsletter:

  • $1 billion over five years to make proposed changes to Canada’s environmental assessment laws.
  • An additional $172.6 million over three years to improve access to clean and safe drinking water on First Nations’ reserves.
  • $167.4 million over five years to better protect, preserve and recover endangered whale species in Canada.
  • $20 million over five years to assess the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change measures and identify best practices.
  • $22 million to renew the Sustainable Aquaculture Program for two years in support of an improved regulatory system. Renewal must include a focus on the environmental performance of Canada’s aquaculture sector.
  • Significant investments in scientific research.

 

This is here. In other parts of the world, we see decreased biodiversity everywhere we look. In order to bring highlight to endangered bird species, the group Artists For Conservation, to which I belong to, has decided to get involved in its first international collaborative mural project. As I mentioned in a previous blog , the installation which will comprise the world’s 678 endangered species of birds, will be  the artistic centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress to be held in Vancouver in August 2018. The original artwork will then go on an international tour to select cultural/scientific venues.

Here is one of the birds I signed up to do: the Banasura laughingthrush (Trochalopteron jerdoni) which is endemic to Southern India and is on the IUCN red list of threatened species since 2016.

 

Trochalopteron jerdoni is restricted to high elevations in the limited districts of Wayanad (Kerala) and Coorg (Karnataka). Although it can be found in several localities, the species is severely fragmented and has probably gone extinct at a few locations  according to a 2012 research by Praveen J. and Nameer. “The largest sub-population is found at Vellarimala-Chembra and this likely numbers a little more than 250 mature individuals”  (Praveen J. 2016). The population is estimated to be between 250 –2500 individuals divided in 2 to 5 sub-populations, but no recent assessment is available.

 

The main problem the species face is the large-scale conversion of forest into plantations, reservoirs, crops and human settlements. Commercial plantations of tea, Eucalyptus and Acacia have been increasing in area.

 

Since Banasura is thought to be a sedentary resident that inhabits dense undergrowth and moist, shady lower storey vegetation of evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, densely wooded ravines, hollows and forest edge, the fact that 47% of evergreen/semi-evergreen forest was lost in the Kerala portion of the Western Ghats between 1961 and 1988, while there were increases in plantation and deciduous forest is a major threat. The indiscriminate use of inorganic pesticides might also be affecting its survival.

 

To find out more about Banasura Laughingtrush click here

 

For more details on this mural project, click  here

 

To find out more about the David Suzuki Foundation: Go to: https://davidsuzuki.org/

 

Ref: Praveen J. and Nameer, P.O. 2012. Strophocincla Laughingthrushes of South India: a case for allopatric speciation and impact on their conservation. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 109: 46-52.

 

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Today I want to talk to you about an artist I truly admire and that found how to marry her two passions, art and environment. This is what I aimed to do when I started painting again after completing my degree in biology (ecology and environment) but I must admit I was never able to bring it to her level, even after my seven years on environmental committees. My art is about nature and environment. I support and am a signature member of Artists for Conservation, but I have not yet found a way of truly marrying both my passions the way she did.

 

This woman did and she’s doing it on a grand scale, her aim being education, as well as cleaning beaches and continuing doing her art. I find her purpose and action really inspiring.

 

Sculpture made of plastic debris Photo credit: ©Washed Ashore website

Sculpture made of plastic debris
Photo credit: ©Washed Ashore website

 

Angela Haseltine Pozzi, an art educator, founded the Washed Ashore Community Art Project in 2010 and is its artistic director since then. The Washed Ashore movement creates art out of ocean debris and litter while raising  environmental awareness.

 

This non-profit community art project is based in Bandon, Oregon, where Angela decided to take action about the large amounts of plastic debris that was washing up on the beaches she loved. Since its foundation, Washed Ashore has picked and transformed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches into beautiful art at the same time, awakening consciousness about the growing global marine debris crisis, especially plastic pollution, and not only in oceans, but also in waterways.

Photo credit: ©Washed Ashore website

Photo credit: Washed Ashore website

The organisation relies on volunteers to pick up debris and bring them back to its premises. Everything is then cleaned, bottles rinsed and emptied of residues. Water bottles are really abundant and don’t disintegrate, one of the worst pollutant along with smaller pieces of plastic, the hardest to pick but some of the most important to reduce pollution. Plastic ropes, tubing, various containers, plastic bags, flip-flops, all get used by this very imaginative artist that aims not only to create art but to educate about various ocean stresses and how our consumer habits make a difference to sea life including the bleaching of the reefs.

 

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History finds her work so important that they decided to feature one of her creations, a huge sculpture titled “Turtle Ocean” representing a Hawksbill turtle, an endangered species, swimming over a 12 foot coral reef, all of it made of recycled debris. They also put out a video of the making of the sculpture, you can consult here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4V_RZ-p9-Y

 

To find out more about the Washed Ashore project: http://washedashore.org/

I am truly amazed and in awe of this project and thought I would share this with you.

 
Site web Suzanne Bélair

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A simple winter morning, magnificent in all its beauty!

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Can we really speak of simplicity when all this complexity is in front of our eyes?

What would we be without nature and its biodiversity?  Nothing

We need nature but she does not need us

When we’ll have destroyed it

She will slowly regenerate

But it will not be us or our descendants that will be enjoying it

Because when we will have annihilated her

Humanity will have perished

It is not too late

Let’s be conscious of our behaviours

And take action without delay!

 

©2016 words and photos Suzanne Belair

www.suzannebelair.com

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There is hope for cleaning up our oceans thanks to a 21-Year-Old who started the process. This young man is leading the way to the largest ocean cleanup in history slotted to begin by 2020.

Watch this video published by The Huffington Post: https://www.facebook.com/HuffingtonPost/videos/10153666021071130/

or go to the official site: http://www.theoceancleanup.com/

 

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I know we are buried in snow and we only have Christmas preparations on our mind at this time of the year. And with all that busyness, an important piece of good news slipped my attention.

 

Like a lot of people, I have been very concerned about the disappearance of bees. Did you know that experts estimate that one of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators? Well, on November 25th, the government of Ontario became the first government body in all of North America to announce a plan to restrict the use of seeds (specifically corn and soybeans) treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. The plan is to put in place regulations with the goal of reducing the use of neonics by 80 per cent by the year 2017. Regulations should be finalized by July 2015. That is great news!

 

It seems like the government of Ontario has decided that it is time we look after bees so that they can continue to look after us. There is a growing movement to save bees and other pollinators. People are more and more aware of their usefulness and of the reasons why their populations are diminishing. It is encouraging that a first government in Canada wants to take steps to reverse the trend here.

 

Neonicotinoid pesticides or “Neonics”  are highly toxic to bees, and also have wide-ranging effects on other organisms, from impaired memory, to lower reproduction rates and increased susceptibility to disease. They may also harm the human brain, as well as our nervous and hormonal systems.

 

A massive study by an international group of independent scientists was conducted over four years with results published last June. They reviewed and analysed about 800 peer-reviewed studies on neonics and concluded that there is “clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action”. They also pointed out that there was serious risks not only to bees but to many other beneficial species like butterflies, birds and earthworms.

 

In the meantime, some research shows that neonics do not necessarily increase agricultural yields. So why are we still using it them?

Although Europe has moved ahead with a ban on three neonics in 2013 (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam),  these are still widely used and allowed in Canada, even if regulators have confirmed that their use on corn seeds is a contributing factor to bees’ decline in Ontario and Quebec.

 

In the case of clothianidin,  used to treat corn seeds and frequently detected in samples of dead bees, Canadian regulators even signed off on its re-approval last year just as their European counterparts were implementing a ban. None of that makes sense.

 

In the U.S., neonics are currently used on about 95% of corn and canola crops; the majority of cotton, sorghum, and sugar beets, about half of all soybeans, as well as on the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops, including apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Neonicotinoids are also applied to cereal grains, rice, nuts, and wine grapes. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonicotinoid). Scary…

 

In Canada, the responsibility for pesticide regulation is shared between the federal and provincial governments, so either can listen and act. I hope Ontario’s decision will have a domino effect on all other provinces.

 

To find out more:

 

http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/XercesSociety_CBCneonics_sep2013.pdf

 

 

 

suzannebelair.com

 

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I am extremely happy and proud to announce that I was accepted as a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation (AFC).

AFC_Logo

 

As you might or might not know, Artists for Conservation is the world’s leading artist group supporting the environment and who’s mission statement is: “To support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural history”.

 

This distinguished group includes some of the most gifted artists in the world who are dedicated to conserving nature. Membership spans nearly 30 countries.

 

It also gives us the opportunity of contributing directly to conservation causes we believe in directly through their organization and web site.

 

I am now working at putting together my web presence with AFC

 

To find out more:  http://artistsforconservation.org/

http://www.suzannebelair.com

 

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