Sassy Bats and Boss Moss


Photo Credit to Dasha Gaian (Flickr)

This week on Terra Informa, we get batty for Calgary Bat Week with an archive discussing the challenges faced by our flying furry friends, plus we re-air an interview with Edmonton’s resident Moss Man, Dr. René Bellend, about the boss that is moss!

Living with Bats

In the spring of 2017, Terra Informers Lauren, Charly, and Amanda attended an event called “Living With Bats”, put on by the Alberta Community Bat Program. The group of Terra Informers spoke with Erin Lowe of the Alberta Community Bat Program, and asked her about general bat info, how to attract bats to your neighbourhood, and to highlight some of the challenges being faced by bats today. 

Moss Mysteries

Let it not be said that that green fuzzy stuff you see around is less fascinating that other, more impressively plumed species of flora. Our second archive piece from March 2015 puts the spotlight on moss, the sometimes-unsung hero for many nature enthusiasts. Terra Informer Tasmia Nishat spoke with Edmonton’s own “Moss Man,” Dr. René Bellend, a professor in the department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta.  They chat about why Dr. Bellend is so passionate about these plants, and why it can be legally difficult to protect rare mosses.

What’s Happening

If you live in the Edmonton area, there’s a free documentary screening happening on Thursday, November 1st at the Princess Theatre. “Human Flow” is the title of a documentary by internationally-renowned artist Ai Weiwei that captures images of the astounding, and often tragic, journeys of human migration across the world fuelled by famine, war, and climate change. Doctors without Borders are hosting the event, and will lead a discussion before the film about the many challenges that people face when forced to leave the place they called home. RSVP via Eventbrite.



Download program log here.

Christmas trees and Bat issues


This week on Terra Informa we’ll revisit two notable stories. First we’ll take a look at how you can pick the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree for the upcoming season (the answers may surprise you), After that, we discuss the surprising challenges bats face today.

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Christmas Tree Showdown

We’re starting to get to that time of year when many of us are on the lookout for a new Christmas tree for our living rooms. We’re usually faced with one of two options: springing for the real deal, or going artificial. But who wins in the ecological showdown between the two types of trees? Each has its pros and cons, but when it when it comes to deciding which is naughty and which is nice, the answer isn’t so cut-and-dried. Before sprucing up your den this holiday season, you might want to hear some of the facts, which Hamdi Issawi will take us through.

Links: Ellipsos, Kansas State University Saint Joseph’s University

Bat Issues

Have you ever wondered how bats fit into our urban environment? This week we talk with Erin Lowe from the Alberta Community Bat program about the challenges facing bats and how to live with them happily.

Download program log here.

Photo by: camerabee

Bat Issues and Sustainability Classes


This week on Terra Informa we bring you two stories. First we discuss the challenges facing bats today and then bring you to a new school pilot project centered around reducing single-use plastics.

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Have you ever wondered how bats fit into our urban environment? This week we talk with Erin Lowe from the Alberta Community Bat program about the challenges facing bats and how to live with them happily. 

Listen further and you will hear Laura Bamsey and Marnie Olson talk about the impact sustainability pilot projects can have on students and the environment. Learn about the power of awareness and early education, and how the elements society has collaborated with the lonely whale foundation to bring these programs to life.

Download program log here.

Photo by: Radu Privantu 

The Slow Death of Lake Urmia

Today Terra Informa leaves the comfort of home for a look at some environmental issues from overseas. We begin by talking to members of the Azerbaijani community about the decline of Lake Urmia in Iran. The lake is home to more than 200 species of birds, and of critical importance to local people, but its water is quickly retreating. And if it disappears, the worst is yet to come. We talk to organizations that are working to save the lake about what’s happening, and what can be done to reverse the trend. In the second half of the show, we take a trip to the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania where we talk to an American researcher who is studying the region’s bats. She tells us about the area’s incredible biodiversity and the role of bats in the ecosystem. And as always, we start things off with a run down of the week’s environmental news headlines.

Download this week’s show.

Salt crystals growing on the shore of Lake Urmia in Iran. Photo by Ehsan Mahdiyan.

Iran’s Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. Located in Iran, between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, it is a breeding ground for flamingos and one of the largest habitats of a salt-water shrimp. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, and a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It plays a crucial role in the economic, ecological and social health of the region. Currently, the lake is in danger of drying up. More than just an environmental problem, the deterioration of the lake could impact the 13 million inhabitants of the region. Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon talks to some members of Azerbaijanji communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to hear their concerns.

More on this story: Campaign to Save Lake Urmia, Lake Urmia appeal by the Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP)

The Biodiversity of Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains
Some of the most biodiverse places on the planet are the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. To get a sense of the value of these forests, Terra Informa made a visit to Tanzania, in East Africa. Here we found one scientist who spends her time studying the inner workings of the jungle. Carrie Seltzer is a PhD student from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our correspondent followed Carrie on a night walk into the forest in search of bats and some wisdom on biodiversity. David Kaczan filed this report from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

News Headlines
On the west coast, public consultations on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline have begun. In Kitimat, locals voiced strong opposition to the project. At the same time, the federal government was being accused of trying to push through approval of the project. The day before hearings began, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver wrote in an open letter that, environmental and other radical groups “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” Both he and Prime Minister Harper raised concerns that foreign groups were funding opposition to the project.

More on this story: CBC News (1), CBC News (2), CTV News, Globe and Mail

On Saturday, over 100 people gathered in Halifax to protest against hydraulic fracking. The rally was part of a provincial day of action against the controversial oil and gas extraction technique. Speakers from Occupy Nova Scotia and a wide range of environmental groups were on hand, calling for tougher regulations on the petroleum industry. Some 250 km to the east, another group of people gathered at the Canso Causeway which links Cape Breton to the mainland. They were voicing their opposition to exploratory drilling that has been approved for Lake Ainslie. They worry that while fracking has not yet been authorized for the lake, it may only be a matter of time.

More on this story: Halifax Media Co-op, Chronicle Herald, Cape Breton Post, CBC News

A team of Canadian scientists say they’ve discovered the reason for sharp declines in two species of boreal ducks. Over the past 30 years, populations of scaups have dropped by 40% and scoters have fallen by 60%. The scientists found that global warming has resulted in spring arriving in the boreal forest 11 days earlier than it did in the 1970s. The ducks time their migrations precisely so that they reach their summer habitat as insects are emerging, but now they’re arriving too late. The loss of food means that the ducks are producing fewer young. Not all ducks are affected though. Some species, like the mallard, are able to adapt the timing of their migrations to the changing climate.

More on this story: CBC News, Scientific article in Global Change Biology,

Global Biodiversity

On today’s show we’re exploring issues surrounding global biodiversity. We take a look at new efforts to curb the rapid deforestation in Indonesia, backed by billions of dollars from Norway. We’ll also talk to a biologist in Tanzania who’s researching the vital role fruit bats play in maintaining the health of local forests.

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Photo coutersy Nils Rinaldi