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Alex Steffen, 22 Jun 06

Migration is a brilliant evolutionary strategy, especially when you can fly. Each year, the Irish light-bellied Brent Goose migrates from coastal estuaries in Ireland to Arctic summer bogs, and back again.

These sorts of migrations are incredibly important, a part of the unseen biological complexity that underlies the steady functioning of the Earth's ecosystems, which themselves provide us at least $33 trillion in vital services. But that which is unseen is often unvalued.

In an effort to change people's perceptions, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the BBC have teamed up to track the migration of ten geese as they make their 8,000 km migration. Each goose has been satellite tagged using tiny "backpack" transmitters. The project goals are scientific, of course --

The WWT undertook the project to find out how to safeguard the light-bellied brent goose population. By following the goose migration, WWT can gather information about the key staging sites and the route the geese take. As a result, steps can be taken to protect the areas visited by the geese on their journey. The tracking system will also provide information about how fast the geese fly and at what altitude, adding to biological knowledge about the species.

-- but the project partners also clearly wish to stir people's imaginations and bring their attention to migratory birds and planetary interconnections beyond the flight route between the British Isles and Northern Canada.

Which is all to the good. Just as we can't build what we can't imagine, we can't protect what we don't (or won't) see. Knowing the planet is the first step towards saving it.

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You are right. Knowing really is half the battle! And in this battle to fight for environmental preservation, more information is essential. When do they expect to gather data from migratory geese?

Posted by: reden on 22 Jun 06



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