Japan, the Newspaper that Becomes a Plant


In Japan, one of the most famous national dailies invented a one hundred percent sustainable newspaper. If you plant it, it will bloom!

Japan once more demonstrates to be an advanced country. Its latest invention consists in a newspaper made of recycled and vegetable paper that you can plant after you’ve read it. It is called “Green Newspaper” and was invented by the publisher of the famous Japanese daily, The Mainichi Shimbunsha.

After reading the newspaper, tear it to small pieces and plant it © yoshinakaono.com

Paper that can be planted is not news. It has been on the market for some years and is a mixture of recycled paper, water and small flowers or herbs seeds (it can also be easily made at home). And it can be re-used in a creative way: once you’ve finished with it, don’t throw it, rather tear it into small pieces, plant and water it and within a few weeks you’ll unexpectedly have plants and flowers.



The eco-friendly newspaper

The idea was conceived by Dentsu Inc, one of Japan’s largest advertising agencies, which works with “The Mainichi”. The green newspaper is not the first sustainable initiative undertaken by the Japanese daily. Its commitment to environmental protection is already well-known thanks to a previous advertising campaign on water donations for populations suffering from thirst. “The Mainichi doesn’t take action only through information, but also by solving global issues”.

The eco-friendly newspaper has had a huge success, a circulation of over four million copies a day across the country and revenues of about eighty million yen, equivalent to over $700,000. The initiative has also involved schools, in order to raise children’s awareness on environmental issues and teach them the importance of recycling. Because in order to reduce CO2 emissions generated by traditional waste disposal systems we should recycle waste materials, and paper most of all.

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Validation of Set of Postage Stamps to Mark the World Wetlands Day, 02 February 2019


On 02.02.2019, at 11:00 in the building of the Central Office of “Bulgarian Posts” in Sofia, will be held validation of a series of four postage stamps entitled “Via Pontica – the Path of the Birds” illustrating four of the most beautiful species of waterfowl on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast – Great White Pelican, Eurasian Bittern, Little Egret and Pigmy Cormorant.

The date 01.02.2018 was chosen not by accident. It comes on the eve of World Wetlands Day – 02 February, which day the Via Pontica Foundation will celebrate, apart from the validation of the series of postage stamps, and with three events in Burgas, about which you can find more on the viapontica.org website and on the worldwetlandsday.org

The initiative for the creation of the postage stamps is on the Via Pontica Foundation, whose commitment to biodiversity and the protection of the planet is shared with many state and non-governmental organizations. The representatives of MOEW, EEA, RIEW, Burgas Municipality, the Union of Bulgarian Philatelists, as well as authoritative organizations working in the sphere of environmental protection, biodiversity and ornithology are invited to the event.



Wetlands are our future! The main benefits to humans from the normal functioning of wetlands are: climate protection, water use, fishing, agriculture, logging, energy, wildlife, transport, other products, including medicinal plants, recreation and tourism. The aim of celebrating World Wetlands Day this year is to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands in climate protection.

One of the most important and significant for Bulgaria is the Burgas wetlands. They are also the principal place of activities of the Foundation Via Pontica. The Bourgas Lake Complex is a major crossing point on the Via Pontica migration route – one of the great airways of migratory birds from all over Europe. Here the birds traditionally stop relaxing, and some remain to winter and nest. There are 254 bird species in the lakes region, 71 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. Of the species present, 105 are of European conservation importance, 9 of them are threatened globally and 95 species are endangered in Europe.

With the initiation and release of this set of four postage stamps, the Via Pontica Foundation aims to promote the rich biodiversity we still have, to change people’s attitudes towards protected areas and species so that there will be a clean nature for the generations after us.


Theatres Go Green


Via Pontica Foundation collaborated for the first time with the Burgas Municipality Educational Kids Complex – Theatre Department to create an interactive play both to celebrate the World Wetlands Day and to emphasize on site specific climate change issues.

The performance will take place on the 8th of February 2019 at the “Alexander Kodjakafaliqta” Primary School, where pupils, parents, teachers and authorities will be able to attend the art event.

The audience has a special role in the play as it is one of the main characters on the quest of “planting” ideas for conservation of coastal wetlands.

Festival of Applied Arts and Ecology


To celebrate the World Wetlands Day, Via Pontica Foundation, in partnership with Burgas Municipality, for a second year chose to gather pupils from the city of Burgas in the aula of Burgas Free University.

The event will take place on the 25 of January 2019, starting at 13:00 h under the slogan “Wetlands and climate change” and will include an art installations and competitions dedicated to the conservation of Burgas wetlands. Main topics and assignments relate to coastal wetlands and their importance towards sustainable development.

The highlight of the event will be the fairy tale “Secret World of Vaya Lake”, as children are introduced to the endangered species and their characteristic wetland habitats.

Prize awards await the best performers.

Academy for Eco Detectives


On the 18th of January 2019, Via Pontica Foundation together with the Museum of Natural History and Primary Schools on the territory of the Municipality will organise an “Academy for Eco Detectives”.

The event itself will have an interactive approach towards environmental and climate change “investigations” in the region of Burgas wetlands. Youth of today will comprehend the effects of climate change and will help transform our behaviour by addressing the wetlands protection and preservation issues.

Interactive games such as mystery box, finding the organic solution will encourage creativity and critical thinking in solving environmental challenges.

How a Seaweed-Eating Microbe Could Help Fight Plastic Pollution


Around 8 million metric tons of plastic are estimated to enter the oceans every year. But the oceans could provide a solution to this plastic pollution problem. In a new study published in Bioresource Technology, scientists report that certain salt-loving microorganisms could eat seaweed and produce biodegradable plastics in a sustainable fashion.

While traditional plastics are derived from petroleum, bioplastics are a sustainable alternative made using plant matter as raw material. But growing plants requires large amounts of land, freshwater and fertilizer. Bioplastics made from low-cost, ideally waste materials, would be much more sustainable. And the new seaweed-based degradable plastic fits the bill. It could be sustainably produced in large quantities offshore from non-food sources, its developers at Tel Aviv University say.

Commercially available bioplastics are made of a fully degradable polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate that is naturally produced by bacteria or other microorganisms by fermenting sugar or fats. The microbes are usually fed vegetable oil, or pure carbon sources such as glucose, which is derived from corn or sugarcane.

The researchers from Tel Aviv University used single-celled microbes called Haloferax Mediterranei instead. These have been shown to produce PHA in salty water. But researchers have previously cultivated the microbes on traditional biomass sources.

The Israeli team used seaweed as a feedstock instead. They fed seven different species of seaweed to the microbe. The microbes produced the most PHA when fed the Ulva lactuca, also known as sea lettuce, the researchers found.

The results could lead to a sustainable and environmentally friendly method to produce bioplastics and bioenergy from offshore-grown biomass, the researchers write.

“We are now conducting basic research to find the best bacteria and algae that would be most suitable for producing polymers for bioplastics with different properties,” environmental and earth science professor Alexander Golberg said in a press release.

Source: Ghosh, S. et al. Macroalgal biomass subcritical hydrolysates for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) by Haloferax mediterranei. Bioresource Technology, 2019.

by Prachi Patel


Plastic Pollution Discovered at Deepest Point of Ocean


The deepest point on Earth is heavily polluted with plastic, scientists have discovered, showing how pervasively the world has been contaminated.

The researchers plumbed the depths of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, near Challenger Deep, the lowest place on the face of the planet. They found the highest levels of microplastics yet found in the open ocean, compared with surveys from elsewhere in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

“Manmade plastics have contaminated the most remote and deepest places on the planet,” said the Chinese researchers. “The hadal zone is likely one of the largest sinks for microplastic debris on Earth, with unknown but potentially damaging impacts on this fragile ecosystem.”

Other recent studies have demonstrated the reach of human impacts into the Mariana Trench, with “extraordinary” levels of pollutants being found there and plastic being found in stomachs of deep sea creatures. Microplastics have also been found in Swiss mountains, tap water and human faeces.

Many millions of tonnes of plastic pour into the oceans every year, but where all the pollution ends up is not well known. The researchers from the Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering in Hainan collected bottom water and sediment samples from 2,500m down to 11,000m below sea level. By comparison, Mount Everest is 8,850m above sea level.

The analysis, published in the journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters, found that the concentration of microplastics increased as the sample sites descended the trench. At the bottom, they reached a maximum of 2,200 pieces per litre in sediments and 13 pieces per litre in water.

The researchers said the microplastics in the trench were likely to come from the industrialised nations in east Asia, including China and Japan. The trench is a narrow, V-shaped abyss and therefore traps sinking particles. Earthquakes are relatively common in the trench and these may help shake sediments down into the trench, the researchers said.

Most of the microplastics were fibres a few millimetres long, most likely from clothing, bottles, packaging and fishing gear. Polyester was the most common plastic in the sediments and polyethylene terephthalate, used for bottles and clothing, was most frequent in water samples.

Microplastics have been shown to harm sealife, which is already being damaged by overfishing and climate change. The researchers said: “Further work to evaluate the impacts of microplastics on fragile hadal ecosystems is urgently needed.”

Damian Carrington Environment editor

The Guardian

Floating Device Created to Clean Up Plastic Waste in the Pacific Ocean Isn’t Doing Its Job


A system intended to reduce plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean is not yet producing results after a couple of months at sea.

The Ocean Cleanup System 001, a U-shaped floating barrier created by the organization The Ocean Cleanup, arrived in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October. But the system has failed to retain plastic, the organization said on Tuesday.

The device is 2,000 feet long with a 10-foot skirt that hangs below it, under the water. It set sail from San Francisco in September, with the goal of cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years.

Ocean garbage patches are formed by rotating ocean currents called “gyres” that pull marine debris (litter, fishing gear, and plastic) into one location, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The are several of these patches in the ocean, including two in the Pacific.

The one known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California, and it’s about double the size of Texas, or three times the size of California.

The Ocean Cleanup’s founder, Boyan Slat, told CNN earlier this year that the patch contained an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80,000 metric tons.

Joost Dubois, head of communications at The Ocean Cleanup, told CNN in September the system was expected to be able to recover 50 tons of plastic from the ocean each year.

In a news update on Tuesday, the organization said the system is concentrating the plastic, but it’s not able to hold on to it.

“Eventually, the only way to truly see how the system would perform was to put in the environment it has been designed for,” the organization said.

The organization says it is working to identify the cause. One of the possible problems is that the system is not moving fast enough.

“It appears that the system occasionally travels slower than the plastic, which provides the caught plastic with the opportunity to leave the system again.”

The organization also said the system, which they have named Wilson, is creating an effect on the current as it interacts with water, resulting in small patches of plastic moving and accumulating around the system.

The organization has also observed that the system creates waves, possibly preventing plastic from entering the mouth of the device.

“We will continue testing and monitoring the system until we feel confident to make any modifications, if necessary, which will then be applied in a later shift,” the organization said. “We are confident these tests will teach us more about the current status of Wilson, which will hopefully allow us to soon make the cleanup system fully operational.”

Some critics questioned the ambitious ocean cleanup system even before it reached the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Miriam Goldstein, the director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress, said deploying a device of that size will create its own environment, and sea life will grow on it or underneath it.

Goldstein also questioned the efforts to collect plastic in the middle of the ocean instead of focusing on stopping waste from reaching the ocean in the first place


Gisela Crespo and David Williams, CNN

Joined Zone “Rila – Buffer” in the Natura 2000 Ecological Network


The National Council on Biological Diversity at the Ministry of Environment and Water approved the inclusion of the Rila – Buffer Protected Area in the Natura 2000 ecological network. This happens after 11 years of delay and following a decision of the European Court of Justice. Thus, the last territory of the Important Bird Areas in Bulgaria, which was outside Natura 2000, will receive legal protection.

This area includes forests and pastures of Rila Prefecture, adjacent to the Rila National Park and the Rila Monastery Nature Park, which as of 1 January 2007 should have been included in the ecological network. The inclusion of this territory in Natura 2000 is extremely important for the protection of endangered bird species living in forests. It preserves the largest compact habitats of the Eurasian pygmy owl and the boreal owl, as well as a significant part of the populations of the white-backed woodpecker and the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker- species with limited distribution only in the high mountains. Other particularly important species are hazel grouse, western capercaillie, meadow corncrake, golden eagle, short-toed snake eagle, peregrine falcon.

The decision to include Rila-Buffer is a demonstration of our country’s readiness to fulfill its obligations under Article 4 of the Birds Directive. By the date of accession to the EU, Bulgaria had to declare sufficient number of protected areas for birds to ensure that special measures were taken to protect endangered and migratory species. Only scientific ornithological criteria should be used for the selection of sites, and economic considerations can not be taken into account. Since 1997, the European Court has accepted BirdLife International’s criteria as the most appropriate.

OIP has been declared a Corine site of international importance in the 1990s, and in 2005 was approved by BirdLife International as a site of international importance for a large number of endangered breeding bird species. In 2006 the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) submitted duly completed documentation for 114 proposed protected areas for birds, including OIP Rila. At that time, however, the National Council on Biological Diversity (NCBD) did not approve the whole territory of the RMI, based on clear economic arguments. Since then the unfortunate history of the overall protection of the IBA Rila continues despite the fact that in 2007 BAS confirmed the need for the whole territory to be included in Natura 2000 and although in 2010 a wide range of ornithologists from different institutions united around the proposal that the whole OIP went into Natura, with the territories outside of the two parks uniting in one zone – Rila-buffer. The decision on Rila-Buffer was postponed to three meetings of the NCBD, the last of which in 2016. Then the decision was postponed under pressure from the municipalities despite the latest warning issued by the European Commission (EC) to Bulgaria. This caused Bulgaria to be sued and in the spring of 2018 it was convicted by the European Court for failing to comply with its obligations under the Birds Directive.



At the meeting of the NCBD, the protected area around Rila for the natural habitats was also considered. According to the decisions of a series of biogeographical seminars (bipartite process between the state and the EC) the announcement of the zone is necessary for the conservation of brown bear habitats and the critically endangered species of the fish European bullhead. Three variants of the area – the Association for Research Practices, the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests.

The proposal, which best meets the scientific criteria, is that of the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. It was also supported by representatives of the scientific community and by both representatives of nature conservation organizations. The area proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests, under the name “Low Rila”, is twice as small, fragmented and does not provide the conservation objectives. Nevertheless, the members of the board and representatives of the administration prevailed and the cut-off option was approved. This is a violation of the requirements of the Directive, as it is necessary to take into account only the scientific criteria at the notification stage.

It is important that the process of proclaiming the Rila-Buffer and Low Rila Protected Areas is completed as required by law and that the actions of the government, local authorities and citizens are aimed at the effective conservation and management of the protected areas of Nature 2000, stimulating nature-friendly activities and avoiding the destruction of habitats and species anxiety.




Climate in Crisis: World Famous French Climatologist Prof. Edouard Bard to BNT


We are increasingly talking about climate change. In the Polish city of Katowice there is the 24th UN Climate Change Conference, but the great missing is the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, who canceled his trip to cope with protests in France. The dissatisfaction of the “yellow vests” was due to the planned increase in fuel prices, which is known in the country as an “Ecology Fee”. About Climate Change and the measures to be taken, a guest at the studio of the morning block of the Bulgarian National Television was the French climatologist Professor Edouard Bard, who will today deliver a lecture at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The Ecology charge has caused huge protests in France, which have been going on for a month now. Professor Bar said that this shows how difficult it is to adopt measures that are good for the future. In his opinion, these measures are not well explained to people, but it is important to start this change in environmental policy.

Professor Edouard Bard, climatologist: Paris was the leader in the battle with climate problems. Scientists are trying to organize things on an international level. The message of 20 years is the same – to reduce emissions. It is alarming and difficult that these additional taxes for some households can have an impact, and we must try to help the poorest to be assisted in this transition.

Regarding the topic of global warming, Professor Bard was categorical that things should be viewed globally as well as historically. Changes should be considered as age-old, such as millenniums, to have an idea of what’s extraordinary and not. It’s true that major changes, warming, climate change are increasing from carbon gas.



Professor Bard has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Knight of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic, the Grand Prix of Prince Albert First of the Monaco Oceanographic Institute, and an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.
Professor Bard’s lecture will be in English and is about “Paleo-climatic variations in the area around the Black Sea during the last ice age.” The climate around the Black Sea coast is influenced by the sudden events that have occurred over the last millennium in the North Atlantic Ocean, the French climate scientist said in a lecture.

According to him, through his great watershed, the hydrology of the Black Sea is affected by the melting of the Eurasian Fennoscandian glacial layer. Studying and documenting this volatility is key to identifying the region’s sensitivity to climate change in the past and present. This is also important in order to make a true recreation of the environment inhabited by the prehistoric inhabitants of these regions, as evidenced by the famous localities, such as the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria, Prof. Eduard Bard explains.