Saturday, January 19, 2008

Footprints on a fragile British landscape

A friend of mind used to rhapsodize about the uplands in the Lake District. Several NGOs are involved in trying to preserve this ecosystem, which has been a tourist attraction for centuries. The uplands also endure various climate change impacts, as well as playing a role in flood management, according to this article from the Yorkshire Post. As tourists hike in rougher weather, they erode footpaths and expose delicate upland areas to worsening impacts.

Such areas also raise the issue of ecosystem services -- natural features of the landscape that underpin entire economies, yet cost "nothing" until they are compromised. For example, the large swaths of peat sequester a great deal of carbon. Poorly managed peatlands can result in the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide, much like the wildfires in semi-arid parts of the U.S. and Europe.
Hard-edged, gritty photo from the Lake District National Park Authority.

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