Friday, November 28, 2014

Deforestation in east Africa

By Mohamed.A.Jama 

East Africa is rich in tropical forests, dense montane forest and includes the eastern portion of the Congo rainforest. These forests are rich in bio-diversity and they are the home of different indigoes tree species like Olea africana, Dombea goetzenii, Acacia, and Bamboo. They also provide habitat for large animals like Bango’, Yellow-backed Duiker, Golden cats, Giant forest hogs, Leopards, Hyenas, Buffalos, Colobus Monkeys and Elephants.  The region is known for its great savannas too as shown in picture 1.

 Picture-1 savanna (National science foundation. August, 2011)

However nowadays the forest is decreasing year after  year. According to research made by the open access journal PLOS, the East African forest shrank 9.8% between 2001 and 2009. East African countries’ forest is declining year after  year  due to increasing population. Kenya’s forest cover decreased by 8% between 1981 and 1988. According to PLOS journal, 14% of Kenyan forest will disappear in 20 years.

Causes for deforestation

1. Local Level

Farmers are expanding their agricultural land and enlarging their cultivation area to get more revenue. Most East African local administrations have been involved in distributing land to local farmers without paying attention to environmental issues.

2. National level

The forest departments of East African governments do not give training to their staff to recognize the role of local knowledge in forest preservation. Decision-makers are only giving land to local farmers in order to get political benefit and some protected areas are destroyed for the sake of economic gain. 

3. Global level

In the developed world, industries and consumers promote the export of food from East Africa mainly in raw form for processing. The business motivated models imposed by international institutions like the World Bank have encouraged serious exploitation of forest land.

What could be done to prevent East African deforestation?

The governments of East African countries must promote conservation of forest in a sustainable way. The citizens should be encouraged to plant at least five trees per year. Local people should participate in formulation of forest management policies. Harsh penalties should be applied to those who destroy the forest in an unsustainable way. However, there is still this problem of how to feed the population and maintain the forest at the same time.  Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.


East African forest. 2012.
National science foundation. August,20011.
PLOS Journal. July 31, 2012. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fish Cannon - Worth Shooting?

By Rena Ruusuvuori

When we think about energy production, the cleanest and most environmentally friendly options are generally associated with those generating energy from wind and water: renewable sources (see previous post about hydropower!). However, despite the positive image, hydro plants and dams associated with them do cause a lot of negative impacts on river habitats. In this blog post I will concentrate on those poor fish populations which find a dam wall straight up their fish-faces; and one fresh, splendid innovation to help them break through. 

Monday, November 24, 2014


By Ira Leiviskä

The Hoover Dam in Nevada, United States

The dilemma

Hydropower is considered to be a green, environmentally friendly source of energy. After all, it is based on moving water, which earth has a vast supply of. Surely it is a better alternative to fossil fuels, which release major greenhouse gas emissions. Or is it?

What is hydropower?

The most common way of utilizing hydropower is through a power plant which is usually situated in a dam that has been built into a river. The plant normally has three parts: the plant where the electricity is generated, the dam which controls the flow of the water, and a reservoir where the water is stored. The water flows through turbines which spin a generator and transform the movement into electricity. Then it can be transported into homes and factories via electric lines.
Hydropower can also be produced with the tidal movements of water, but tidal plants are still few and far between. This way of producing hydroelectricity is nonetheless being studied, and could possibly be a success in coastal areas.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

European Week for Waste Reduction

By: Laura Puurunen

The European Week for Waste Reduction is approaching!  The program aims to raise awareness on waste reduction with the theme of three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. TAMK is participating this year by arranging the annual Stuff Exchange Days on Monday and Tuesday, 24th and 25th of November, and providing info about food waste in the lunch area.

We challenge you, fellow student, to take part in minimizing waste by reducing, reusing and recycling!

This year we encourage everyone to think especially about the food waste. In developed countries, food waste is a huge problem: it requires lots of energy, land and water to produce the food on your plate, and if it ends up in the bin it has all been for nothing. In Europe we waste food to the extent that by reducing it only by 15 %, we could feed the amount of people in Europe all over again. That’s something to think about! Therefore, please be mindful of your portion sizes and you’ll do the environment a favour!

Continuing an item’s life instead of throwing it in the bin is the ultimate eco-deed: compared to new stuff being produced, it takes much less energy to repair what’s broken and continuing to use it for the purpose it was designed for.  Also giving your stuff away to have a chance to fill someone else’s needs after you no longer need them is a great chance to reduce waste. Dig through your closets and check if you have unwanted things clogging up your space, and bring it to the Stuff exchange days!

Organic food waste. Source:
The world’s resources are not infinite either, and also for that reason we should always rather recycle the raw material of an item at the end of its life, than throw it in the landfill. Have you for example known, that in addition to recycling the normal paper, cardboard, glass and metal, you can take your worn out clothes that’s not possible to be reused anymore, to the fabric recycling bin at any H&M and they will use it as material for new fabric? (Disclaimer: this is not an H&M ad; I just encourage you to take use of their recycling program! You should still consider whether buying things from them is smart.) In Tampere there’s also a currently ongoing plastic recycling test period where you can drop off your plastic at the recycling bins around the city. Unfortunately there are only eight of those points in the city, the closest one to TAMK being located in Tammelantori. It’s interesting to see how much you can actually reduce your waste by recycling even the plastic! I challenge you to try and guarantee that you no longer need to take the trash out very often!

Drop by on Stuff exchange days in Lämpiö near Teiskontie entrance, on Monday and Tuesday 24th to 25th of November, and learn about more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle!

You can also find us on Facebook:

References:  European Week for Waste Reduction.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Toxins in textiles - can they be avoided?

Sonja Myyryläinen

Many different chemicals, some of them toxic, are used in the manufacture of textiles. Some are harmful to us humans or to our environment, while others are currently not considered hazardous. Some of the chemicals used in the manufacture and finishing of textiles  may remain in the final textile product when the products  reach the consumer.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Local activism works   

By Mirjami Kuoppala

According to The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the ecological condition of surface waters in Finland is 'good' or 'very good' for 65% of rivers, 85% of lakes and 25% of coastal water systems. But what if the opinion of local residents differs from the official classification of a particular water system? Is there anything that citizens can do in order to improve the quality of their local lake or river when the official classification does not support their aim? Luckily there is. Let’s take Lake Kuivasjärvi in Parkano as an example to demonstrate some activities which can be and have been done in real life by the public in order to improve the ecological condition of a lake. 

Algal bloom in Lake Kuivasjärvi, summer 2013. Source.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Invisible Killers or indoor air quality

Written by: Shunova Kristina

People all over the world are highly concerned about air quality. Fewer people, though, have ever thought about indoor air. The majority are quite sure that air outside is more polluted than inside their houses. However, it is vice versa. I would like to present the major sources of indoor air pollution and give some tips which can help to improve the situation.

Household products.

First of all, I would like to mention personal care and household cleaning products which we actually use in our everyday life. Our morning starts in the bathroom and we use shampoo, soap, toothpaste and skin scrubs. Then we, mostly girls, use different types of cremes and, finally, we do our make-up and hair, again using plenty of beauty products. During the day, we wash dishes several times using washing detergent. We also do our laundry, which includes use of powder and softener, for example. All these products are made of chemicals and emit a huge amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can lead to cancer, asthma attacks, skin and eye irritation and so on. So, try to choose personal care and household products with low concentrations of VOCs.  Here is the link which I, personally, use to choose all the detergents, cleaners and laundry products. (


Carpeting is another issue which is worth discussing. Materials which carpets are made of and the process of producing carpets involve plenty of chemicals which can affect our health as soon as they are released into the air. The component called styrene, which is used in latex for carpet base, is one of the most dangerous VOC sources in carpets. Along with chemicals, bacteria, dust, mold and mildew can be found in carpets. All together, these can cause skin irritation, headaches, fatigue, eye and nose irritation and difficulties in breathing. That is why, when choosing a carpet, I would strongly recommend you to buy Green Label products, which have a low level of VOCs. It is also quite a good idea to let your new carpet air out before laying it indoors, and keep the room with a new carpet well ventilated. You should also look for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter) that will help you to keep the carpet clean and thus improve the indoor air quality. 
Nonstick cookware is also dangerous for our health. It emits a chemical (perfluoro-octanoic acid) into the air which is linked with cancer, thyroid decease, reduced fertility and elevated cholesterol. This issue is now being studied by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the USA, as this chemical has been found in people’s blood samples.


Another danger is radon gas, which comes from the ground and water. It actually comes from a natural decay of uranium, which is found in almost all soil types. Radioactive particles of radon can get inside your lungs and cause lung cancer. In order to protect yourself from radon gas penetration inside your home, you should prevent any cracks or holes in your house’s foundations.


Our daily routine includes cooking and washing, which leads to increase of water vapors in the air. A high level of moisture can result in mold growth. So, those who have some kind of allergies can have an asthma attack or start coughing.

In view of the fact that everything inside our houses pollutes the air we breathe, it is essential that we take steps to improve air quality. Proper ventilation is the key way to keep your indoor air clean and safe to breathe. 

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Fluorinated Telomers. 2014. EPA. Read 10.10.2014.
Radon.Health risks. 2014. EPA. Read 10.10.2014.
Volatile Organic Compounds. 2014. EPA. Read 10.10.2014.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Urban farming - greening cities

By Laura Puurunen 

In the past, every family had a vegetable patch in the back yard. When the shift to an industrial society took place and people moved to the cities, producing one’s own food became unnecessary.  Today, however, population growth especially in the cities sets many challenges for us, food security and pollution not being the least of our worries. Even though today more than a half of the world’s population lives in urbanised areas, the United Nations Development Programme estimates that only 15 percent of the world's food is grown in cities. How is it then possible to feed such a huge, constantly growing mass of humanity sustainably?