English wildlife and nature to get more protection

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–on a good day there’s no country more beautiful than England. Fans of hiking, nature, and wildlife have a real treat with England’s wild places, and those places just got a boost to the tune of £7.5 million ($12 million) in additional funding.

The government has selected twelve Nature Improvement Areas where nature will be protected and improved. Some spots like the salt marches along the Thames need cleaning up, while peat bogs will be restored after the recent drought in order to preserve their unique habitat and keep them from emitting their locked-up carbon if they dry out. Threatened wildlife such as the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and farmland birds will see their habitats improved under the new scheme, which will be a plus for the many wildlife enthusiasts who journey out into the English countryside every year.

These regions will not be fenced off from visitors. In fact, the improvements will encourage sustainable public use. It’s certainly a nice change in attitude from this time last year, when the government proposed selling off the nation’s forests to private investors, only to be forced to back down after a massive public outcry.

I love hiking in England. From the Oxfordshire countryside to the Yorkshire Moors up to Hadrian’s Wall on the border with Scotland, it’s my number one choice for an outdoor ramble. Look for more reports from the English countryside when I return this summer!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Walk amid the butterflies in London

London is a big city, and after being there a while visitors feel the urge to experience some nature. A new exhibit at the Natural History Museum lets you do just that.

Butterfly Explorers features a lush butterfly house with hundreds of species flying free. The house is divided into four different zones: Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. An outdoor garden features the butterflies of England and gives tips on how to attract them to your own garden. There’s a feeding table covered with fruit where you can see butterflies eat, and a hatchery where you can see tropical butterflies hatch from their chrysalises.

The Butterfly Explorers exhibit is especially geared for kids, although adults will like it too. The museum itself has lots of interesting permanent exhibits and is highly recommended for anyone interested in nature and science.

If the butterflies weren’t soothing enough and you still need some peace in the big city, try some of these quiet spots in London.

Butterfly Explorers runs from April 8 to September 26, 2010.

Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda popular with tourists

Visiting the former home of a famous person is pretty common. Tourists flock to Elvis’ Graceland and who wouldn’t love a look inside the creepy world of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch? But exploring the former compound of a Colombian drug lord….well that seems a little less likely. Yet aparently Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles, located outside of Bogota, Colombia, is a hit with tourists.

Though Escobar was shot to death sixteen years ago, he lives on in infamy in the country. Tourists who have an affinity for over-the-top tacky “narco-deco” style or who can’t resist a look at Escobar’s lavish estate (which is now owned by the state) can visit the compound for about $10 US. The ranch is considered an “anti-crime museum” and sells replica guns and fake Escobar mustaches.

The compound is being re-purposed as an eco-tourism park, though many of the eccentric features added by Escobar remain. Nearly 30 hippos still wander the property, which includes Jurassico Park – a park featuring life-size models of dinosaurs – plus a go-kart track and private landing strip.

The compound also features horseback riding and hiking trails around the large property, butterfly and bird sanctuaries and a wildlife reserve.

[via News.com.au]

Photo of the Day (7/7/07)

Butterflies are some of nature’s most delicate fluttering creatures. So when they are captured with wings fully spread, relaxing on the soft pink petals of a flower and posing for a passing photographer in the Ecuadorian Amazon they must also be granted a moment of fame on Gadling. This POTD was taken by fiznatty and several other beautiful butterflies and creepy crawlers from Ecuador can be found in the Gadling Flickr pool.

Photo of the Day (11/18/06)

The further we slip away into winter I can’t help wanting to migrate to the same places where butterflies land on sweet beautiful flowers. Sure this shot comes from my own collection of flicks taken in Omaha’s botanical gardens during the very early stages of fall, but it seems I couldn’t find a fluttering butterfly these days to save my life. Luckily I’ll have this shot to help pass the time until spring and summer arrive once more or until I see more cheery winter land pictures in the Gadling Flickr pool.