$2.2 billion for Great Lakes Restoration: EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency will spend $2.2 billion over five years on the Great Lakes to clean up polluted water and beaches, restore wetlands and fight invasive species such as Asian carp in a revitalization effort.
In 2010 $475 million is budgeted under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan.

The Initiative builds upon 5 years of work of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (IATF) and stakeholders, guided by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. The IATF includes 16 cabinet and agency organizations, including: EPA, State, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, HUD, Transportation, Homeland Security, Army, CEQ, and Health and Human Services.

Chicago Breaking News reports
Billing the effort as light on study and heavy on action, environmental leaders say they’re seeking to heal the Great Lakes ecosystem from “150 years of abuse” and to ensure that “fish are safe to eat; the water is safe to drink; the beaches and waters are safe for swimming, surfing, boating and recreating; native species and habitats are protected and thriving; no community suffers disproportionately from the impacts of pollution; and the Great Lakes are a healthy place for people and wildlife to live.”

[Vancouver Sun - U.S. looks for help in battling Asian carp invasion]

[M.live - Asian carp may swallow federal Great Lakes Cleanup funding]

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SWA urban design project in Anning, China starts construction

The principal government of Miyi County in Sichuan Province, China, just north of Kunming, has started construction on the first phase of a 330-hectare (1.3 square miles) new-town designed by SWA Group’s Los Angeles office utilizing historical ecologies as well as technology innovation to create a more sustainable community.

One of the largest of many city design competitions won by SWA, the Anning River new-town will include higher-density housing and commercial areas as well as preserved agricultural practices, parks and recreation zones. When complete, the new South Miyi County, also known as New South Town, would be home to up to 100,000 people via new construction of 2.3 million square meters of building area and 20,000 units of housing. North Miyi is already home to 500,000 people.

[SOURCE: Businesswire - SWA Group Wins Design for Anning River New Town for 100,000 People Starting Construction Near Kunming, China]

Continue reading SWA urban design project in Anning, China starts construction

Ecological Agriculture: can it feed the world?

The latest edition of the Monthly Review (November 2009, Volume 61, Number 6) includes a paper from Jules Pretty is professor of environment and society at the University of Essex, UK. titled Can Ecological Agriculture Feed Nine Billion People?

Below is an extract from the paper

Something is wrong with our agricultural and food systems.Despite great progress in increasing productivity in the last century, hundreds of millions of people remain hungry and malnourished. Further hundreds of millions eat too much, or consume the wrong sorts of food, and it is making them ill. The health of the environment suffers too, as degradation of soil and water seems to accompany many of the agricultural systems we have developed in recent years. Can nothing be done, or is it time for the expansion of an agriculture founded more on ecological principles and in harmony with people, their societies, and cultures?

Read the full paper at the [SOURCE: MonthlyReview - Can Ecological Agriculture Feed Nine Billion People?]

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Landscape Architecture professor travels North America studying urban agriculture

Professor Karen Landman, a landscape architecture professor from University of Guelph recently travelled across North America to study Urban Agriculture. Travelling some 18,000 kilometres(11,185 km) across western USA and Canada to see how food was grown commercially in cities.

University of Guelph has a full interview with Professor Karen Landman about her travels what she learnt.

[SOURCE: University of Guelph] via City Farmer News

An Urban Agriculture Symposium is being held at the University of Guelph at the Arboretum on Friday 20 November from 8:30am to 5:30pm at which Professor Karen Landman will give a lecture along with other presenters. However, the cut off date for registration was last Friday, 13th November.

Could Detroit become the City of Urban Agriculture?

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The idea of returning Detroit to farm land is an interesting idea that was recently covered in New Geography(DETROIT: URBAN LABORATORY AND THE NEW AMERICAN FRONTIER, Nov. 4) and New York Times(Plowing Detroit Into Farmland blog post Nov. 9 based on New Geography article).

The New Geography article reviews the size and scale of Detroit in comparison to other cities and the extent of urban decay since the 1950′s and that Detroit could become farmland.

In my opinion, Detroit could become a city of urban agriculture; it has the land, water & infrastructure(roads, rail) and lots of deserted industrial space that could be converted to markets and storage/logistics.  However it would require a either a grass roots movement which gets financial backing (after initial results) from investors or a federal incentive as the city of Detroit is shrinking and resources are already stretched.

Urban agriculture could supply the people of Detroit and other cities in region with food. Large areas of housing could be converted to open fields where the blocks are large or rows of green houses where the blocks are narrow. The agricultural areas could also grow crops for ethanol(although resource intensive) to supply raw materials for fuel(refined in Detroit) for the farm machinery and cars.

Urban agriculture combined with alternative energy such as wind and solar could convert Detroit from a city to a urban core with villages (see New Geography for diagram). The city could become self-sufficient and a possible testing ground for urban design that could be used for other North Americans cities going through the same changes in size and urban form.

New Orleans is currently a hot bed for Urban Design experiments for the South, which came about from a natural disaster maybe Detroit can come back as the hot bed of Urban Design for Northern climates.

Detroit has the opportunity and basic resources but does it have the will to change?

Read more information used as background for this post at [New Geography] & [New York Times]

By Damian Holmes