How do we really know when a species is extinct?

By Hannah on Sep 23 2015 | 0 Comments

When we hear or read that something is extinct, for the most of us we consider this to be a fact.

Despite this, there are numerous cases where ‘extinct’ animals are suddenly rediscovered, as if they came back from the dead. This made us question; how do we really know when a species is wiped out?

We’re not saying that there’s a pterodactyl and a tyrannosaurus rex hidden in the depths of a forest but in our opinion it’s intriguing if an animal which was once globally considered to be deceased spontaneously reappears. How could they have passed our radar?

This then got us thinking further…What factors are considered when declaring a species as extinct and should there be a tighter threshold?

Before a species receives the protection provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) it must first be added to the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.

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View The List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11) and  List of Endangered and Threatened Plants (50 CFR 17.12).

What are the criteria for deciding whether to add a species to the list?

  • ·         The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • ·         Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • ·         Disease or predation;
  • ·         The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;
  • ·         Other natural or manmade factors affecting its survival.

(http://www.fws.gov/)

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Declaring a species as extinct is a difficult process and since the 1990s the rules have actually tightened. The World Conservation Union will only label a species as extinct if there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual died.

Therefore, to do this, scientists must now show that they’ve made repeated efforts to survey the species’ known habitat and have failed to see or record any sightings or evidence of their continued survival.

But is this enough? Could there be vulnerable animals out there that need our protection but aren’t getting it because they’re considered extinct?

On the other hand, it’s incredibly difficult with some species, due to their allusive behaviour, to actually know if they do or do not exist. A perfect example of this is the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. This bird has never really been considered as a common species and some may even say it has a certain mystical charm about it; vanishing one century and then appearing the next…

By the end of the 20th Century the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was widely considered as extinct until it was spotted along the Cache River in Arkansas in 2004 (wwf.panda.org/about).

Should these vulnerable birds be given more protection rather than being brushed off as extinct?

A big issue with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is that no one trusts the opinion of anyone who isn’t an expert. Unless the person is a well-respected ornithologist, he or she may be branded a fool, a liar or a kook for saying that they have spotted the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Gallagher.T, 2006).

Catherine Sayer, Junior Professional Associate at Red List said, ‘Listing as extinct has significant conservation implications because protective measures and conservation funding are usually not targeted at species believed to be extinct’.

This is why it could be an issue if a species is listed as extinct when actually they require protection as they’re critically endangered.

However, Catherine continued ‘A species should not be listed as extinct if there is any possible doubt that the animal exists. Listing of a species as extinct requires exhaustive surveys to be undertaken in all known or likely habitat throughout its historic range, at appropriate times an over a timeframe appropriate to its life cycle and life form’.

Similar to the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, the Annamite Striped rabbit was considered by some experts as extinct and severely endangered by others. However, on the 4th June a group of researchers from East Anglia planned to go on a three-month expedition to try and find this rabbit and found it almost immediately on the first night. This could have been sheer luck but it does question how hard this species was hunted the first time, and in that case, any severely endangered species.

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So how do we really know when a species is extinct?

After carrying out research and speaking to experts it’s understandable that declaring any species as extinct or endangered is incredibly complex. However, after the almost instant discovery of the Annamite Striped Rabbit and sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, we believe that there should be further hoops to jump through before declaring an animal as extinct.

If you would like further information and to help protect endangered animals then please view the following links:

http://www.bornfree.org.uk/

http://www.worldwildlife.org/

http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/donations.html

http://ptes.org/ways-to-give/

http://www.defenders.org/contact?_ga=1.5719605.764446467.1443003198

 

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Categories: Charity , Nematodes , Wildlife , animals

5 Reasons to Start Up in Your Shed

By SeanM on May 21 2015 | 1 Comments

 

Businesses are sprouting at the bottom of Britain’s gardens. We asked five business owners why they chose to set up shop in their sheds and the benefits that a home-grown base has had.

 

Jump On A New Opportunity

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Dawn Fry set up The Melting Pot in 2009, offering chocolate workshops. Dawn told us how a redundancy became an opportunity to pursue a dream job:

“When I had the idea for my business, I thought it might remain a pipedream, until redundancy forced my hand.  I felt it was a ‘now or never’ moment in life.

“I was made redundant in the June of 2009 and I spent that summer refurbishing the shed and I launched in the September of the same year!  It was a rather mad time, but we did it, adding a false wall so we had some storage out back, underfloor heating, water supply, painting and prettifying. 

“Having this very special ‘shed’ at the end of our garden has proved a brilliant investment for the whole family – and many local chocolate enthusiasts too. If you are thinking of investing in something in your garden – DO IT, you will be so glad you did!”

 

Avoid Distractions

Nick Hanington’s barn in Norfolk proved to be the perfect, peaceful place he needed to start his canoe making business, Weston Canoes. He tells us why its countryside location is the ideal place to work:

“Working from my garden is brilliant. It's very peaceful. Some people wonder if it's a bit lonely but I love putting the radio on, working at my own pace and concentrating on my work.

“There are also no other people coming and going which could be a bit distracting. When things are going well I sometimes keep working late into the evening. The days can fly by.

“The best thing about working from my garden shed is that I'm in the countryside. The fact that I make canoes probably tells you that I didn't really want to work in a city office. I don't have to wear a suit and tie. I can take as long for lunch as I want. As long as I get the work done it can all be very relaxed.”

 

Cut Costs

Setting up Griffin Designs in her shed proved to be a great financial decision for owner Karen Griffin. Karen explains why leaving her costly business unit was a great choice:

“I run a thriving internet business making wall stickers as well as a sign writing business 
from a shed in the garden.
It started because I couldn't cope with the cost of the business unit.

“It was cost considerations that made me move back home - originally it was a temporary idea, but that was six years ago.  It allowed me to keep working through the holidays and into the evening.  So much time saved on commuting without mentioning the petrol!”

 

Make the Most of What You Have

Gary Kincaid has had great success utilising existing shed space at home to set up his plant marker business, Kincaid Plant Markers. He tells us how to make use of existing utilities:

“My son and I run a plant marker business from our garden shed and garage called Kincaid Plant Markers. We see many benefits from manufacturing our materials from home and have seen great success since we started.

“We've found that you do not need a professional building. You can utilize what you already have. You have the convenience of being close to the business at all times and can utilize existing utility infrastructure, electricity, water, heating, phones and charge the appropriate expense to the business. You can help customers after hours and on weekends if you choose to, and family members may be able to cover for you if you are away.”

 

Create Your Own Space

Tina Gasperson embraced the opportunity to create her own unique space when she set up Tinahdee, her jewellery and unique handmade wedding rings business.  Tina explains how she maximised the space she had available:

“There was not a lot of capital expense in creating this little workplace; I don't have to pay rent or buy an entire building. I had the inside built out with workbenches on the three sides and there is room underneath the benches for storage, including a small refrigerator and a shelf all the way around for even more storage. It's just enough space for me. I have a computer and a small sound system so I can keep up with emails and listen to music while I am working.

 “The best thing about having my shed as my workplace is that it is my own space. Everything I need is right there. I am still at home, but I am "at work" too, which helps with efficiency and saves me a bunch of money since I don't have to commute every day. It's a great way to work. 

“I've had my shed set up for about three-and-a-half years now. It's the best thing I ever did for my rustic rings business and I highly recommend it.”

 

 Did you start your business at home? Why not share your own tips on Twitter!

 

 

 

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Eat Seasonably in May & June: How to Cook with Asparagus

By Natalie on May 06 2015 | 1 Comments

Every two months we pick a new seasonal vegetable and hunt down some of the tastiest, most inspirational recipes we can find from talented food bloggers all over the web. For May and June we have chosen asparagus.

In season for a mere eight weeks, British asparagus should be bright and firm. To keep the vegetable at its absolute best when storing, trim the ends, place in a glass of water, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. This will keep them in top condition for up to two days.

If you plan to grow your own asparagus, it is surprisingly easy to do outdoors or in a potting shed, but be warned that you will have wait until year three to reap the rewards and harvest your asparagus!

Just like our other featured vegetables kale and cauliflower, asparagus is full of health benefits:

 

  • Asparagus is a good plant-based source of protein and high in fibre
  • Its anti-inflammatory compounds can help protect you from type 2 diabetes and heart disease
  • Your skin can benefit from the antioxidant glutathione found in asparagus, which is known to protect skin from sun damage, pollution and the effects of aging
  • It contains Vitamin K, great for  promoting healthy blood clotting and strengthening bones
  • Asparagus contains a unique carb called inulin, which remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it helps to absorb nutrients better, and cut the risk of bowel cancer
  • As a rich source of B vitamins, asparagus can help to regulate blood sugar levels
  • Green asparagus also contains vitamin A for better vision, potassium for smooth kidney functioning, and trace minerals that help boost immunity

Source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-amazing-health-benefits-of-asparagus.html

 

One of the reasons that British asparagus tastes so good is down to the fewer air miles it has clocked up. From the second asparagus is cut, the natural sugars begin to fade and the stems turn tough and fibrous. Therefore, the shorter the journey from field to plate, the tastier and more tender the spears!

 

Here are some asparagus recipes we can’t wait to try:

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Spring Quinoa Salad from Deliciously Declassified

Basil & Walnut Pesto Quiche from The Whole Ingredient

Asparagus Crêpes with Goat Cheese from The Bonne Femme Cookbook

Asparagus Brunch Tart by Scrummy Lane

Roasted Spring Vegetable Salad with Tahini Dressing by Cookie Monster Cooking

Gnocchi with Asparagus by Eat Your Veg

Asparagus & Beetroot Tartlets by Flavourphotos

 

What will you be cooking now asparagus is in season? Share you recipes and suggestions with us over on Twitter!

Better yet, got a vegetable in mind you'd like to see covered here? Let us know!

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Categories: Eat Seasonably , Food , vegetables

Urban Gardening: Alternatives for the Young

By SeanM on Apr 30 2015 | 0 Comments

A common perception of horticulture is that it is mainly the preserve of older generations. Here at Tiger Sheds we decided to take a look at how younger generations are involved with gardening and the alternatives for those without gardens of their own.

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Generation Green Fingers

Surprisingly, a survey published last year revealed that gardening is actually fifth in the top 10 leisure activities for 25-35 year olds. That’s ahead of going to the cinema and visiting family! The Royal Horticultural Society also found that 89% of 18-24 year olds either have a garden or grow plants. So whilst it may be a stereotypically older hobby, there is a growing enthusiasm for it amongst younger people.

When Nick Hamilton, son of the famous Geoff, and president of The Cottage Garden Society advertised for a Nursery Supervisor for Barnsdale Gardens, he too selected somebody young, somebody he described as “the youngest, least experienced candidate” he interviewed for the job.  At 27 he was “still young in terms of horticultural experience gained” but he has been an excellent choice for the position, bringing huge enthusiasm and new ideas with him.

In 2013, a 23 year old gardener was given his own space at the Chelsea Flower Show. He was the youngest ever participant and won a silver medal for his efforts. In the same year, 27-year old Hugo Bugg won the highest award of a gold medal and again broke the age barrier for the top prize. In an interview after his presentation Hugo explained: “My parents are keen gardeners, so I got into gardens growing up. We had three acres of wilderness so there was plenty to play with.”

Small Spaces

If everyone was as lucky as Hugo, then we’d surely have a new generation of Alan Titchmarshs. But in a world with an ever-growing population, green space is hard to come by. The average size of a British garden is about 90m2, which is about the same as three parking spaces. In London though, with over half of people residing in flats or apartments, even this small space isn’t there.

So what options are there for those with little to no gardening space?

Window Boxes

These mini gardens are perfect for those in small flats or apartments. Window boxes are compact containers that sit on windowsills. They are a cost effective method of using limited outdoor space. They can spruce up the drab exterior of a student flat window with colourful flower arrangements, or top up your kitchen supplies with some easy-to-maintain herbs.

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You can even plant shallow rooted vegetables.  Some that work well window boxes include:

-          - Radishes

-          - Leaf lettuce

-          - Spinach

-          - Spring onions

Angela Bowron, a keen gardener and blogger at The Awkward Blog gave her top tips for looking after a window box:

“Make sure they get plenty of sunshine. Our window box at the back garden gets plenty of sunlight, but the one in our front yard doesn't so I'll place it by the back window from time to time. If you don't have that option, try and find flowers or plants that live well in shade. The heather we've used has survived autumn, winter and is still looking healthy in spring!”

To get more information on how to get free seeds for your window boxes, click here.

Roof Gardens

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Roof gardens are a relatively new concept, popularised in New York where green space is at a premium. There are great examples in the sprawling metropolitan city of vibrant green enclaves brightening the aerial make-up of the city. There are however also fantastic examples in the UK of commercial rooftop gardens like the Rooftop Gardens in Kensington to the small scale but fruitful vision of the Aerial Edible Garden. Whilst it might not feasible for everyone of course, if you have the space on a flat roof then it may be a great way of using that dead space. Because rooftops may be windier than a normal garden it might be worth investing in a potting shed to help keep all your plants and equipment safe.

Find out more information on creating your own roof garden here.

Allotments

 The British government has had a statutory right to provide allotments since the Allotments Act of 1925 so there’s a good chance, especially if you live in the city that there are facilities nearby for you to use. You have to be over 18 to have one so children and teenagers would need to apply with an adult but if you’re a student or a young professional then you may have the chance to get one. Understandably competition for space is tough and some waiting lists are years long but you may get lucky and find the perfect spot to grow your own vegetables.

Tony Heeson, Yorkshire Rep for the NSALG (National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners) spoke to us about the benefits of using an allotment:

“There are many reasons why allotments are important, green spaces where people can relax and the area can breathe fresh air not traffic fumes, family areas where the whole family can engage in a joint pastime, the production of fresh food such as fruit and vegetables, where you know what has been put on them, the physical exercise and wellbeing from a gentle outdoor activity and the pleasure of meeting and passing time with likeminded people, many of whom will become friends.”

To apply for an allotment in your area, click here.

Community Gardens

Community gardens are a relatively new alternative for the green fingered. They are often based in cities, where residents may not have access to their own gardens. As well as community gardens, inner city farms are now present across the country, offering young people the chance to get involved with horticulture but also get up close and personal with farm animals.

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Alyson Chorley from the charity Thrive who use community gardening to help young people with mental and physical disabilities spoke to us about the benefits gardening can have on disadvantaged young people:

“Students at Thrive benefit from one to one support and tasks include sowing seeds, growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs, and learning how to use tools safely. We teach numeracy and literacy skills during horticultural activities. All the activities at Thrive help them to work in a team of people their own age and make new friends and work and communicate more easily with adults. It’s also a chance to learn a new hobby and have options for further study and the possibility of a rewarding career whilst developing horticultural knowledge.”

To see where you can get involved in community gardening, click here.

 

So whether you live in a flat, a house share, rented accommodation or a terraced house with a concrete yard, there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved. Getting out in the fresh air with other likeminded people or growing your own produce can have great positive effects on your health and wellbeing. Like many other young people, it might be time to embrace the greenery and swap the TV remote for a trowel.

 

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The Beginner’s Guide to Taking Your Car Out of Storage

By Tigerbox on Mar 24 2015 | 0 Comments

For anyone who stores their vehicle over winter, those first fleeting glimpses of spring mean more than just warmer weather – they mean the chance to get your car out of storage and take it on its first drive of the year. Often guides will simply list the parts of your car to look at, but if you’re new to this, these steps can be confusing. This comprehensive step-by-step guide ensures you can bring your car out carefully and prep it for fun drives in the warmer seasons.

Check underneath the car

Have a quick look underneath the car to see if there have been any leaks whilst the car has been in storage. If there are leaks, identify where they’re coming from and see to these first. A leak could occur from anywhere in the car that holds liquid – be it petrol, windscreen washer, oil or anything else. You should be able to have a rough guess at where the leak is coming from by looking at where the wet patch on the ground is in relation to the car above it.

Lights

Check to see the lights (front, rear and indicators) still work. If any of the bulbs have gone, you’ll need to replace these before you set off on your first drive.

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Battery

When you put your car into storage, you’ll (more than likely) have taken the battery out to help preserve its charge. If you’ve put it on a maintainer to charge it over the winter, make sure that there’s no corrosion or damage before you fit it back in the car.

If you haven’t taken your battery out, you need to check that it has enough charge as a battery without charge won’t be able to start the car. You can check it with a voltmeter when the car is turned off. The weather will greatly affect the performance of the battery as well – a battery will need more charge in cold weather.

Oil

You’ll want to consider changing the oil to help the engine stay healthy. Old oil can get contaminated with water or rust over time, and putting this through the engine could damage it. Changing the oil takes away this risk. You could also change the oil filter at this point as well, to ensure a fresh, lubricated engine.


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How to change the oil

To change the oil in a car, you’ll need a few things:

·         Fresh oil

·         A new oil filter (optional)

·         A socket set

·         A jack or set of ramps to use to raise the car

Step one

Turn the car on and let it run for ten minutes, as this will help the oil to drain more easily.

Step two

Locate the engine oil screw underneath the car. It will be towards the front of the car. Make sure you have a container ready to catch the oil, and then use your wrench to undo the plug. You’ll want to be careful at this point, as the hot oil will start to flow as soon as you remove the screw. Once it’s open and is starting to drain, leave it until it’s completely discharged and wipe the opening. Place the screw back in, but not too tightly.

Step three

Find the oil filter (they are usually on the side of the engine) and remove it. You might want to use gloves if it’s still hot. Give it a clean around the filter section.

Add some rubber seal to the outside of the oil filter (whether it’s new or old) and twist it back into place.

Step four

Now you need to add the new oil. Remove the oil filler cap and pour the oil into it. It’s important to check how much oil you need in your car’s manual so you don’t over or under fill.

Step five

Start the engine and let it run to circulate the oil throughout the engine. After it’s been running for a minute or two, check the dipstick and, if necessary, add more oil. Now all you need to do is to check there are no leaks and, if not, then you’re done!

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Check other fluids

Your car doesn’t work on oil alone – check the other fluids like screen wash, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid. Whilst most of these are closed systems where there is no way for the fluid to get out (meaning you shouldn’t have to change it) it’s always best to check after storage to ensure you won’t hit any trouble after you’ve set off.

Screen wash

There will be a container with a blue lid showing a diagram of a windscreen. This is the windscreen washing fluid. Simply top this up with washer fluid and it’s done.

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Transmission fluid

The transmission fluid stick is usually red or pink, and will be found under the bonnet. With the engine running, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean and put it back in. Remove it again and check the level the coolant reaches. As it is a sealed unit it shouldn’t require topping up however if it does, see a mechanic to resolve the issue.

Coolant

Check the coolant by removing the radiator cap and looking at whether the fluid is up to the fill line. This must be done when the car isn’t hot and hasn’t been running. If the liquid is below the line, fill it with the same brand coolant as is already in the car.

Brake fluid

The brake fluid reservoir will be on the driver side of your car, and you should be able to see the fluid through the container. The fluid should be a golden colour – brown means it needs replacing. As it is also a closed system, it shouldn’t be low, however topping up is fairly easy.

Tyres

Check the pressures in your tyres and, if not at the correct PSI, inflate them until they are right. You should also use this opportunity to check the sidewalls of the tyres for cracks or bulges, and make sure there’s enough tread on the tyres (the legal limit in the UK is 1.6 millimetres). If they aren’t at least 1.6mm, or have cracks or bulges, they’ll need replacing.

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Belts

Make sure you check the belts for any cracks or looseness. If there is a crack you’ll need to replace the belt, as it could break during driving and create a costly problem for you to solve.

Suspension

The suspension shouldn’t have any play in it and there should be no leaks. Ensure the rubber in the suspension is flexible and soft – if it’s hard or vulcanised, you’ll need to change these parts before you set off on your first drive.

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Fuel

If you stored your car with a full tank of fuel, you’ll need to check to see if it’s separated or water has got in. There are products available that will help you do this. If the fuel has been contaminated, you’ll need to drain the fuel and add fresh fuel back in. If you left it empty refuel the car, checking for leaks as you go.

Starting the engine

Turn the key and start the engine. If it doesn’t start, check that everything’s connected and you’ve gone through the steps correctly. Let it idle and stay off the accelerator until it’s up to temperature. Don’t start the engine in the garage, as this will create exhaust fumes.

Your first drive

When taking your car on its first drive, remember not to push it too hard. Test the brakes at low speed initially to check they still work, try to use all the gears, and check everything’s still working as it should be. The first drive should be no longer than 30 minutes, and just used as a test of the car.

Taking your car out for the first drive of the year is exciting, but properly preparing it is imperative. Remember that the more effort you put into bringing it out of storage, the lower the chances are of it failing later on. After that first test drive, the world is your oyster!

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