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Environmental irony: Pollution caused by trees in Japan

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So far we only thought of trees as beneficial to our environment. But this belief has been turned upside down. Recently, Cypress and Cedar trees in Japan have been found to be causing massive amounts of nitrogen runoff into local streams. This in turn, is resulting in harmful algae blooms.

Surprisingly, nutrient pollution can be caused due to mismanaged forests. But, it’s not exactly their fault.

Why is this occurring?

The main reason for this occurrence is because these trees are planted in massive commercial plantations. These plantations were established half a century ago when the import of wood by the Japanese companies was at its peak. Many of these plantations have now fallen into a state of disrepair due to negligence. Also, the shift in the market has left an abundance of wood plantations, which are now causing major problems for adjacent wildlife.

How is high concentration of nitrogen in soil harmful?

The older, slowly growing trees use relatively less nutrients (or nitrogen) than younger trees, which grow faster and require more nutrients. Nowadays, rarely any new tree grows in the plantations because the land has become densely populated with older trees which prevent sunlight from nourishing the shorter, nascent trees. In addition, there is an unusually high concentration of nitrogen in the soil on the plantations, which is left to run off into neighboring waterways. As a result, algae blooms have begun to form in the highly nitrogenous marine habitats.

How is algae bloom affecting wildlife?

The algae sucks oxygen out of the water, and therefore, other marine wildlife are unable to survive (a process known as eutrophication). According to the American Society of Agronomy, the problem is widespread. These large plantations account for up to 30 percent of forestland across Japan.

Climate Change is making Trees grow rapidly

A new study penned by Kyushu University’s Masaaki Chiwa, says that the process can be prevented by adequate forest management. Chiwa is encouraging the owners of the large plantations to thin them out and create room for new, smaller trees to utilize the abundant nutrients in the soil. His team is already investigating the impact of recent trimming operations on local waterways. They have been measuring water quality to evaluate any further harmful effects of forest thinning on water quality including nitrogen loss.

This post originally appeared on DSCOVRD.

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Experts Claim, Climate Change Can Affect Food, Water Security

Lauding IIT-Mandi for hosting the workshop, Rajeevan said the Himalayas were one of the world's sensitive hotspots to climate change along with the Artic region.

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Ramesh P. Singh, workshop Coordinator and visiting faculty at IIT-Mandi, said: "We have to understand climate change and its impact as it is very important for the future generations." Pixabay

Climate change can affect the food, water and energy security of a region, Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary M. Rajeevan said here on Friday.

“Climate is changing and global warming is happening due to the release of greenhouse gases. In many parts of the world, including India, the effects of climate change are being seen especially in mountain regions like Mandi,” he said.

He was speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology-Mandi that hosted an International Workshop on Climate Change and Extreme Events in the Indian Himalayan Region.

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In many parts of the world, including India, the effects of climate change are being seen especially in mountain regions like Mandi,” he said. Pixabay

The workshop was aimed at understanding the effects of climate change, melting of glaciers, increased frequency of extreme events, atmospheric pollution and pollution due to the burning of crop residue in the Himalayan region and applications of remote sensing.

Lauding IIT-Mandi for hosting the workshop, Rajeevan said the Himalayas were one of the world’s sensitive hotspots to climate change along with the Artic region.

“The Himalayan region is experiencing increasing variability in weather in the last many years. This could lead to further snow accumulation over this region and more research is needed to understand this phenomenon. By studying data, there is also evidence that the number of extreme warm days and nights has increased in this Himalayan region, which are clear effects of global warming.”

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The workshop was aimed at understanding the effects of climate change, melting of glaciers, increased frequency of extreme events, atmospheric pollution and pollution due to the burning of crop residue in the Himalayan region and applications of remote sensing. Pixabay

In his presidential address, IIT-Mandi Director Timothy A. Gonsalves said: “We have 15 professors from six different disciplines in IIT-Mandi who are working on climate change. This workshop saw the participation of faculty from various disciplines and is an example of the inter-disciplinary and collaborative environment on campus.”

Also Read: Passwords on Sensitive Account Are Still Easy To Guess

Ramesh P. Singh, workshop Coordinator and visiting faculty at IIT-Mandi, said: “We have to understand climate change and its impact as it is very important for the future generations.”

The workshop has participation from all over India, besides Europe, and the US with over 90 speakers from across India. (IANS)