Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Appalachians

25 June 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Clingman's Dome Observation Tower, the highest point both in Tennessee and along the Appalachian Trail, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Scott Basford

Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, the highest point both in Tennessee and along the Appalachian Trail, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Scott Basford

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American national park in the southeastern United States, with parts in North Carolina and Tennessee. The park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The park contains some of the highest mountains in eastern North America, including Clingmans Dome, Mount Guyot, and Mount Le Conte. The border between the two states runs northeast to southwest through the center of the park. The Appalachian Trail passes through the center of the park on its route from Georgia to Maine. With 14.1 million visitors in 2021, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States.   read more…

Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg

20 May 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  5 minutes

Glambecker Mühle © Uckermaerker/cc-by-sa-3.0

Glambecker Mühle © Uckermaerker/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, often shortened to Schorfheide, is a biosphere reserve in the German State of Brandenburg near the Polish border. The reserve was established on 1 October 1990 following the German Reunification and is under the protection of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme. It stretches over the German districts of Barnim, Uckermark, Märkisch-Oderland and Oberhavel and incorporates an area of 1,291 square kilometres (498 sq mi). Notable towns are Eberswalde, Joachimsthal and Friedrichswalde. The core area of the reserve is formed by the Schorfheide forest, one of the largest cohesive woodlands in Germany.   read more…

Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean

18 March 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  19 minutes

Aldabra Giant Tortoise © Trisha M Shears

Aldabra Giant Tortoise © Trisha M Shears

Aldabra is the world’s second-largest coral atoll. It is situated in the Aldabra Group of islands in the Indian Ocean that are part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, with a distance of 1,120 km (700 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. Aldabra atoll has, besides the four larger islands, some 40 smaller islands and rocks, all inside the lagoon, as well as a few very small islets at the West Channels between Grand Terre Island and Picard Islands, the largest of those being Îlot Magnan. A small scientific research station of the SIF is based on La Gigi village on Picard Island. The permanent staff (currently 12) conduct research to study Aldabra’s biodiversity. Aldabra is not easily accessed. No airstrips, helipads or landing jetties have been permitted to be built on the atoll. The nearest airfield on Assumption is 50 kilometres (31 mi) south-east of Picard Island. Supply ships operating from Mahé provide food and other essentials once every two months to the scientists and staff at the research station. Cruises are operated by several companies along with dive boats which may visit the atoll on expedition tours. Visits to the island by people other than the scientists and staff of the SIF are strictly controlled and only guided tours are provided with prior permission., an average of 900 tourists visit the atoll a year. Within the atoll, paved walking paths exist from the village of La Gigi, which leads to a promontory from where scenic views of the large lagoon (during low tides) and the mangrove species are seen.   read more…

Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance

16 February 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Energy, Environment, General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  12 minutes

Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss

Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss

The Red Sea–Dead Sea Conveyance (RSDSC), sometimes called the Two Seas Canal, is a planned pipeline to run from the coastal city of Aqaba by the Red Sea to the Lisan area in the Dead Sea. It will provide drinking water to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, bring water with a high concentration of salts resulting from the desalination process (reject brine) to stabilise the Dead Sea water level, and generate electricity to support the energy needs of the project. The project is planned to be carried out by Jordan and is entirely in Jordanian territory. It will be financed by the governments of Jordan, Israel, and a number of international donors.   read more…

Theme Week Asturias

25 January 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  21 minutes

Gijon © Labé/cc-by-sa-3.0

Gijon © Labé/cc-by-sa-3.0

Asturias, officially the Principality of Asturias, is an autonomous community in northwest Spain. It is coextensive with the province of Asturias and contains some of the territory that was part of the larger Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages. Divided into eight comarcas (counties), the autonomous community of Asturias is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by León (Castile and León) to the south, by Lugo (Galicia) to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay (Cantabrian sea) to the north. Asturias is situated in a mountainous setting with vast greenery and lush vegetation, making it part of Green Spain. The region has a maritime climate. It receives plenty of annual rainfall and little sunshine by Spanish standards and has very moderated seasons, most often averaging in the lower 20s celsius. Heatwaves are rare due to mountains blocking southerly winds. Winters are very mild for the latitude, especially near sea level. Asturias is also home of the Princess of Asturias Awards. The paleolithic art in the caves of Asturias is declared World Heritage Site with the Paleolithic Art of Northern Spain.   read more…

Grands Causses Regional Natural Park in Occitanie

21 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  9 minutes

Avène © Toutaitanous/cc-by-sa-3.0

Avène © Toutaitanous/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Regional Nature Park Grands Causses (French: Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses) is located in the French department of Aveyron in the Occitania region. The nature park was founded on May 6, 1995 and today covers an area of around 327,000 hectares. The park administration is based in Millau, where the “Maison du Parc” is located. The park is made up of 93 municipalities with a catchment area of around 68,000 inhabitants. A part of the Grands Causses Regional Nature Park is the Causses and Cévennes Property, which in turn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Larger towns in the park are Millau, Saint-Affrique, Sévérac d’Aveyron (Commune nouvelle; formerly: Sévérac-le-Château), Creissels, Vabres-l’Abbaye and Saint-Georges-de-Luzençon.   read more…

Soomaa National Park in Estonia

26 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General Reading Time:  9 minutes

The Fifth Season © Aime Pae/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Fifth Season © Aime Pae/cc-by-sa-3.0

Soomaa National Park is a national park in south-western Estonia. Soomaa (“land of bogs“) protects 390 km², the park was created in 1993. Soomaa is Important Bird Area since 1989 and a Ramsar site of protected wetlands since 1997 and a Natura 2000 area since 2004. The national park, situated in Vahe-Eesti (aka Meso-Estonia), was created in 1993 to protect large raised bogs, flood plain grasslands, paludified forests, and meandering rivers. The territory of the national park is mostly covered with large mires, separated from each other by the rivers of the Pärnu River basin — the Navesti, Halliste, Raudna and Lemmjõgi rivers. Of the raised bogs, the most noteworthy is the Kuresoo raised bog, whose steep southern slope, falling into Lemmejõgi, rises by 8 metres over a distance of 100 m.   read more…

Castle Combe in England

15 April 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General Reading Time:  7 minutes

The Manor House Hotel © Adrian Pingstone

The Manor House Hotel © Adrian Pingstone

Castle Combe is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, about 5 miles (8 km) northwest of the town of Chippenham. The village has two parts: one is in the narrow valley of the By Brook, while Upper Castle Combe is on higher ground to the east, on the B4039 road which links Chippenham with Chipping Sodbury. A motor racing circuit is to the south of the upper village. The village takes its name from the 12th-century castle which stood about 1/3 mile (500 m) to the north.   read more…

The European Union: Climate Policy

2 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, Environment, European Union, General Reading Time:  344 minutes

Flag of Europe (Latest update: 6 June 2022) The European Union’s climate policy is a European policy area that aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to transform European economies into a low carbon economy. On the one hand, the EU’s climate policy aims to reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases (mitigation), for example through the emissions trading system that has existed since 2005. However, since limiting anthropogenic climate change can ultimately only be achieved at the global level, the EU is also actively involved in the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The EU’s climate policy also pursues the goal of limiting the effects of climate change (adaptation), for example through civil protection measures in Europe or through conflict prevention in developing countries.   read more…

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