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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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Environment

Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall, New Zealand.
The natural environment comprises all naturally occurring surroundings and conditions in which living things grow and interact on Earth. These include complete landscape units that function as natural systems without major human intervention, as well as plants, animals, rocks, and natural phenomena occurring within their boundaries. They also include non-local or universal natural resources that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water and climate.

The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

As human population numbers increase and as humans continue to evolve, human activity modifies the natural environment at a rapidly increasing rate, producing what is referred to as the built environment. The potential of the natural environment to sustain these anthropogenic changes while continuing to function as an ecosystem is an issue of major worldwide concern. Key environmental areas of interest include climate change, water supply and waste water, air pollution, waste management and hazardous waste, and land use issues such as deforestation, desertification, and urban sprawl.

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Elk at the Opal Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
The Leopold Report, officially known as Wildlife Management in the National Parks, is a 1963 paper composed of a series of ecosystem management recommendations that were presented by the Special Advisory Board on Wildlife Management to United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Named for its chairman and principal author, zoologist and conservationist A. Starker Leopold, the report proved influential for future preservation mandates.

After several years of public controversy regarding the forced reduction of the elk population in Yellowstone National Park, Udall appointed an advisory board to collect scientific data to inform future wildlife management of the national parks. The committee observed that culling programs at other national parks had been ineffective, and recommended different management of Yellowstone's elk population. In addressing the goals, policies, and methods of managing wildlife in the parks, the report suggested that in addition to protection, wildlife populations should be managed and regulated to prevent habitat degradation. Touching upon predator control, fire ecology, and other issues, the report suggested that the National Park Service (NPS) hire scientists to manage the parks using current scientific research.

The Leopold Report became the first concrete plan to manage park visitors and ecosystems under unified principles.

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Aralship2.jpg
Credit: Staecker

The diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for irrigation has shrunk the Aral Sea dramatically. The sea's surface area shrank by approximately 60%, and its volume by 80%. In 1960, the Aral Sea was the world's fourth-largest lake, with an area of approximately 68,000 km² and a volume of 1100 km³; by 1998, it had dropped to 28,687 km², and eighth-largest. Over the same time period its salinity has increased from about 10 g/l to about 45 g/l. As of 2004, the Aral Sea's surface area was only 17,160 km², 25% of its original size, and still contracting.

Selected organization

The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization for the conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in the United States and Canada. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting 15,000 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is a charity, with approximately 60% of its funding coming from voluntary donations by private individuals. 45% of the fund's income comes from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

The group says its mission is "to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment". Currently, much of its work focuses on the conservation of three biomes that contain most of the world's biodiversity: forests, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans and coasts. Among other issues, it is also concerned with endangered species, pollution and climate change.

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Kofi Annan
All our efforts to defeat poverty and pursue sustainable development will be in vain if environmental degradation and natural resource depletion continue unabated.
[[Kofi Annan


"The Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System will provide the platform for our enforcement agencies to collect and share information on the trends and patterns of wildlife crime. Moreover, the cross-border nature of wild life crime underscores the need to enhance cooperation among our governments and to pool financial and human resources. I am confident that these measures will go a long way in enhancing our capacity to protect our wildlife resources.” - Mwai Kibaki.]]

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