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Paying tribute to the nation's forests

Paying tribute to the nation's forests

Science
Britons are being urged to pay tribute to the nation's forests by writing a poem, letter or story.The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, is leading the way with a newly commissioned poem, which explores relationships between trees and humanity.Forests have inspired generations of British writers, including Shakespeare, who used woodland settings in many of his plays.More than 10% of the UK is wooded.The poem, Forest, was commissioned by the Forestry Commission, which is marking its centenary this year. In it, Duffy, who steps down this year, looks at the theme of time. "The forest keeps different time; slow hours as long as your life, so you feel human," she writes. "So you feel more human; persuaded what you are by wordless breath ...
Nation's botanical treasure troves 'under huge threat'

Nation's botanical treasure troves 'under huge threat'

Science
A million plants from every corner of the globe are tucked away inside the cabinets that line the walls.It's a scientific collection that goes back centuries, gathered by the likes of Carl Linnaeus, the "father of taxonomy", and Charles Darwin.They could have had no inkling that pressed, dried collections of plants would have modern uses in assessing extinction risks.Estimates suggest one in five of the world's plant species is threatened. Collections of pressed, dried plants are an important "living" resource, say scientists."People think of Herbaria as being dead, old plants and not relevant," says Kathy Willis, Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford."It's living in the sense that the information it has is as rel...
Idaho lands nation's first International Dark Sky Reserve

Idaho lands nation's first International Dark Sky Reserve

Technology
A giant chunk of central Idaho with a dazzling night sky has become the nation's first International Dark Sky Reserve. The International Dark-Sky Association late Monday designated the 1,400-square-mile (3,600-square-kilometer) Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The sparsely populated area's night skies are so pristine that interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way. "That such truly dark nighttime environments still exist in the United States is remarkable," said J. Scott Feierabend, executive director of the Tucson, Arizona,-based association, calling the designation a milestone for the group. Researchers say 80 percent of North Americans live in areas where light pollution blots out the night sky. The central Idaho reserve covers some of the most remote and rugged areas in the ...