How is rubber tapping done?

Natural rubber is commonly acquired from large plantations across Southeast Asia. This clip shows how it is done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB5wdmbcI3o&feature=related

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How does the media affect our view of the World? aka Does anything good happen in Africa?

The following post is the result of a ten minute challenge to find good news about Africa. Often the continent of Africa is portrayed as being one place, rather than 62 territories and the news is often very negative.

During the challenge, which took place on 29/9/10 between 11:35 and 11:45, a group of 12 students were able to find stories on the following which we considered to be positive:

– The appointment of the first female taxi drivers in Cairo.

– The record for the world’s largest T-Shirt has been broken in South Africa.

– SASOL, a South African company has made the world’s first flight on exclusively synthetic jet fuel.

– A computer model has been developed in Kenya that can predict outbreaks of malaria in East Africa.

– Two species of frog previously though to be extinct have been found alive in West Africa.

Given the amount of good news coming from other continents, it was felt that this does not constitute much in the way of good news. We decided to do further research into good news from Africa……

The first thing we found were two specialist websites which seemed to share our dismay about the lack of attention paid to good news from Africa, they are; Good News Africa http://www.goodnewsafrica.net/ and Africa – The Good News http://www.africagoodnews.com/.

among the stories we found interesting were:

Zimbabwe: Tourism Sector Scoops International Award

Zimbabwe has received an award declaring it as Africa’s fourth best tourist destination in Guilin International Tourism Fair in China. This award has come as Zimbabwe has put more money into marketing and portraying there country as a nice place to go globally, sometimes even through celebrities on TV programmes.

This shows that some parts of Africa are becoming desirable and also shows that countries such as Zimbabwe are attempting to re-structure their economy via stable business such as tourism. The award is said to have been derived from the efforts of celebrity host programme ‘ZTA’ and global recognition is being attained for example at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, Mr Chagonda stated that Zimbabwe’s exhibition hall was filled with many potential investors. Zimbabwe is finally making an impact internationally. http://www.africagoodnews.com/travel-and-tourism/zimbabwe-tourism-sector-scoops-international-award.html

UN ends sanctions on Sierra Leone

http://www.africagoodnews.com/international-relations/sierra-leone-foreign-minister-hails-end-to-un-sanctions.html

This article is about the UN ending their sanctions on Sierra Leone after an arms embargo was placed on the country after its 11 year civil war. The 15 member UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of dropping the sanctions showing Sierra Leone is moving away from its bloody past and will be able to focus more on development. This is evidently the best news for Africa in recent months as it is leaving behind its image of cruelty and bloodshed which has held it back for so long. Finally the world can accept that it is no longer a threat militarily and it shows the country itself is progressing in the right direction. A very poor country that is in desperate need of an improved tourism industry and being able to banish its tainted image of the past. Allowing the people to live in peace and happiness . And now the government can focus on improving the quality of life and GDP. This country is in dire need of your support and it is down to you to change the image of not just Sierra Leone but Africa.

Computer model can help predict malaria outbreaks

On the ‘africagoodnews’ website, for me the most capturing article was the malaria article concerning a new computer model that predicts disease outbreaks in a region 90 days in advance. I found it most interesting due to the relevance of it in reference to the world and its troubles; a major problem in our world is that of deaths by malaria. With this computer model one can predict and so have 90 days to prepare for the supposed outbreak of malaria. This could save thousands if not millions of lives. Visually, this article was most captivating as it is the main and first article of the website and this also implies that it is generally thought to be the most important and interesting.

 http://www.africagoodnews.com/innovation/climate-model-gives-early-warning-of-malaria-outbreaks.html

Interestingly, about 8 months after our initial investigation, DFID launched a website of positive news about Africa, asking us to See Africa Differently.

How has the North West Highlands Geopark helped develop the Assynt region?

The North West Highlands Geopark  (http://www.northwest-highlands-geopark.org.uk/index.html) was established in 2004. Geoparks were first established in 1998 as a UNESCO initiative to protect and celebrate areas of international geological significance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Network_of_Geoparks). This designation encourages tourists to visit the area and provides a new revenue stream for local people. New facilities include the visitor centre at Knockan Crag: http://www.knockan-crag.co.uk/about.asp

This remote area of Scotland contains geological structures and rocks of international importance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_West_Highlands_Geopark), indeed the geologists who originally mapped the area and understood its significance – Ben Peach & John Horne) have a memorial to them in Inchnadamph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Horne_Monument,_Inchnadmaph.JPG). There are also important fossil remains in a bone cave: http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/nnr/large_print/Inchnadamph.pdf.

You can find out more about the importance of the rocks found in the area here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_West_Highlands_Geopark

The area is relatively poor and inaccessible, with many young people moving away to seek economic opportunities elsewhere. The Highland Council are responsible for the development of the area: http://www.highland.gov.uk/

Crofting, a sort of extensive farming has long been practised in the Highlands of Scotland, but can be a very harsh way of life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crofting, Scottish Crofting Federation: http://www.crofting.org/Crofters, Commission: http://www.crofterscommission.org.uk/

Fundamentally, there is a strong link between the physical geography of the area and human behaviour there. The rock types and climate combine to provide conditions which are hilly and mostly moorland and grass, with trees mostly restricted to more sheltered areas, such as river valleys.

This vegetation means that relatively extensive agriculture has been dominant, along with coast-based fishing and, more recently fish farming. The inability for the land to support large numbers of people, combined with distance from other large centres of population and historical factors, such as the Highland Clearances and the potato famine, have caused the area to become relatively depopulated compared to the past. This can become a negative feedback, which causes young people to move away to seek economic opportunity elsewhere.

Schemes which provide economic opportunity are therefore very important. The NW Highlands Geopark provides a boost for tourism to the area, thereby boosting the local economy, as well as affording a level of protection to the unique landscape.

How does climate change cause migration?

Climate change, whether anthropogenic (man made), natural or both can accelerate processes such as desertification, coastal erosion and flooding. Here are some pictoral examples of where this is happening around the world:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/earthpulse/enviro-migration-gallery?source=email_photo_20090917

A hidden killer: how does illegal alcohol affect the developing world?

Many cultures have an age old tradition of brewing or distilling their own alcoholic beverages. In the developed world, this has largely been replaced by commercial operations, which are monitored and regulated, however, in parts of the developing world, alongside a legitimate and well regulated commercial sector, there is also a large informal and usually illegal sector.

Without the equipment needed to create the alcohol safely, the products made are often dangerous and can have tragic consequences, ranging from the loss of sight and organ damage, to death. People are drawn to these products because they often cannot afford the commercial alcohol.

In April 2010 in Uganda, scores were killed by illegal banana gin: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8640731.stm

Can road building help India’s economy develop?

As anyone who has travelled on them can attest, travelling on India’s roads can be an interesting experience. India is beginning to emerge as a powerful economy, but for a long time, poor infrastructure has held back progress. At the beginning of 2010, the Indian government announced the expansion of investment in infrastructure, to $1 trillion.

This includes an ambitious road building plan:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8635419.stm

Who was Ernest Shackleton?

Ernest Shackleton is regarded as having bee one of the greatest polar explorers of all time. His legendary escape from his trapped and shattered ship, Endurance, lives on today as a great example of leadership. The lengths to which he went to ensure the safety of his crew are modern day epics.

You can find out more about Shackleton here, including a list of some of the many books about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Shackleton. There is another interesting Shackleton website here: http://indigo.ie/~jshack/ernest.html

There is mo