Science and Nature Round-up: Minister wants more woodlands near cities – The Post

Science and Nature Round-up: Minister wants more woodlands near cities

In other stories, toxic balloons, a big bad wolf and faulty test results

In Denmark’s green and pleasant land … (photo: RhinoMind)
April 5th, 2019 2:42 pm| by Stephen Gadd

The Ministry of the Environment and Food is working on plans to convert land previously used for agriculture into woodland. At present, the ministry is busy in Oksbøl forest in southern Jutland, Himmerig forest in east Jutland and Nordmandsskoven in Zealand, and last year 211 hectares of new forest were planted at eight locations in Denmark, comprising almost 1 million trees.

The addition takes the total area planted by the state over the last 10 years to 3,000 hectares  – the equivalent of over 37,000 detached houses, or around five square metres of forest per person.

Trees of green, red roses too
The minister, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, would like to increase the amount further, and he has now set in motion a survey being carried out by the University of Copenhagen to see where new forests are needed.

“New forests protect drinking water and are good for our climate. At the same time, it makes a great difference on an everyday level if you don’t have far to go to experience green trees and bird-life,” said Ellemann-Jensen. The survey should be finished later in the year.

Party balloons chock full of dangerous chemicals
Tests carried out by the consumer organisation Tænk on a number of different party balloons reveal that almost half of them give off unacceptably high amounts of carcinogens. “These are chemicals that cause cancer and should certainly not be in balloons,” said Stine Müller from Tænk to TV2. The EU has rules governing this, but balloons bought online may come from companies outside the EU that don’t have the same regulatory regime. Seven of the balloons tested gave off levels that exceeded the EU limits and five of those were bought online – one from the Danish webshop and the last two from the physical shop Chao Chao. “This isn’t the first time there have been problems with products bought from online suppliers,” said Müller.

Suspected wolf attack on sheep in Jutland
Earlier this week, 16 sheep were found dead in an enclosure on Stråsø Plantation near Holsterbro in northwest Jutland and nine others were so badly injured that they had to be destroyed. The evidence points to the culprit being a wolf, but it won’t be possible to say for sure until DNA samples collected at the scene have been analysed. No conclusive tell-tale paw prints have been found either. Another curious feature is that a hole has been cut in the fence round the enclosure that has electrified wire at both the top and bottom specifically to keep wolves out.

National Test errors could distort research
Since 2006, all children in Danish state schools have had to take ten obligatory tests in subjects such as reading, mathematics, English, physics and chemistry during their school career. The so-called National Test results have formed the basis data for scientific studies on children’s educational development from the second to the ninth class. However, a recent report has identified a number of errors in the algorithms that determine the level of difficulty for the individual pupil in the reading test, leading to some pupils being evaluated incorrectly. This has raised doubts as to the soundness of the many studies that have been based on the results.