South Africa's Newest National Park

by: Z Moses (reading – 1.8. - 7.8.)

South African National Parks (SANParks) has established the new Garden Route National Park as part of its long-term strategy to expand official conservation areas from 6% to 8% of the country's total land area.

The diverse biomes in the Garden Route include indigenous forests, the Knysna estuary, the Wilderness lake areas, marine protected areas, lowland fynbos and mountain catchment areas of national importance.

"The Garden Route is one of the most important conservation areas in South Africa, and one of our crown jewels in terms of biodiversity and its attraction of both foreign and local tourists," Environment and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said at the park's opening in Knysna last week.

SANParks is the second-largest employer in the region, and its total economic contribution to the local economy is estimated to be almost R95-million per year.

Garden Route National Park

According to SANParks, the new park covers approximately 121 000 hectares, consisting of about 52 500 hectares of newly proclaimed conservation area as well as 58 500 hectares of the existing Wilderness and Tsitsikamma National Parks.

These two parks will retain their identities and become camps within the greater Garden Route National Park.

The new park will straddle two provinces, namely the Eastern and Western Cape; two district municipalities, namely Eden and Cacadu; and four local municipalities, namely George, Knysna, Bitou and Koukamma.

Tourist facilities at the park will include camping decks, chalets, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, canoeing, diving and history and adventure activities.

According to Van Schalkwyk, the new park will allow for the sharing of resources and management experience and the integration of current management units to achieve greater economies of scale.

It will also facilitate the regional implementation of fire management and alien clearing programmes, enable land consolidation, and improve the protection of important ecosystems.

Critical focus area

SANParks chief operating officer Sydney Soundy said the Garden Route was host to the largest continuous complex of indigenous forest in South Africa, spanning approximately 60 500 hectares, while its fynbos fell within the Cape Floristic Region, a designated global biodiversity hotspot.

To manage such a unique combination of diverse biomes with strong tourism and developmental interest would be a big challenge, he said, adding that the term "conservation without boundaries" needed to become a way of life, not just for major stakeholders, but also for all residents in the areas surrounding the park.

"The Garden Route is fortunate to be part of this process, and I believe we will be coining a new conservation model for South Africa," Soundy said. "The park is unique and will require unique management, which we will have to drive."

"We are looking forward to this challenge."

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An Introduction to Skydiving

by: Jill Smi (reading – 8.8. - 14.8.)

Skydiving, as the word implies, is an activity in which you'll be literally diving down from the sky with some safety measures, of course. It's done from an airplane or a helicopter which takes off from a drop zone, which is like a small airbase.

A Bird's Eye View Of Skydiving

If you're planning to do this breathtaking activity, then you should be prepared to know that skydivers would usually exit their airplane at the height of 4000 metres or 13,000 feet. After doing so, you would have to do a freefall for a period of time and then you could open your parachute to slow down your descent until you reach a safe and slow landing speed.

Generally, the chute should be fully inflated by the height of around 2,500 ft. In fact it is part of the law that skydivers should jump with two chutes. One would be the main chute and the other would be the reserve, just in case the main parachute would fail.

Once your parachute is in its full inflation, you now have the ability to control your speed and direction using your chute's steering lines. With that, technical manoeuvres could be executed by experienced skydivers giving them the ability to land with great accuracy. In fact, there are even some competitions held on being able to land in a specific spot with the most precision and style.

Other than bundling yourself out of the plane, opening a parachute and floating your way down to Earth, skydiving also have some specialization areas, and here are some of them.

Formation Skydiving: Creating Art While You Fall

During the freefall period of the jump, some experienced skydivers would combine to create and hold different formations before they breaking off and open up their parachutes and float down to earth as normal skydiving does. In fact, the world record for this kind of skydiving is actually a 400 man dive. The formation was maintained for 4.25 seconds from the altitude of 25,000 ft. in Udon Thai, Thailand.

Freestyle Skydiving: A Solo Performance

This kind of diving can be a very entertaining one. It is where the skydiver would perform some acrobatic manoeuvres and stunts, such as rolls, tumbles and graceful formations by themselves throughout the freefall period and before they opens their parachute. Freestyle dives would also need the participation of another skydiver.

The second diver on the other hand would not do any kind of stunts. However, he would be the one to film his partner's performance by a camera that is mounted on their helmet. This kind of dive is actually a registered competitive sport that was declared in 1996 by the FAI.

Free Flying: Do It Your Way

This is considered to be the art of controlling your body and having the ability to move through different static positions while you are in the freefall period of your jump, before you open your parachute. If you'll be doing dives like this, you would have to do some manoeuvres like Sit Flying, Back Flying, and Head Down. These would allow you to have more control on your speed and trajectory. You also have to do some exit rolls or tumbles at the end of your freefall stage so that you can safely deploy your parachute by the time you reach the right altitude.

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Overview of Tuscany, Italy

by: Emporio Vacanze (reading – 15.8. - 21.8.)

Tuscany is an important region in the north-central area of Italy. The region sprawls in an area of about 23,000 square kilometers and the population of the area is around 3.6 million. Florence is the regional capital of Tuscany. The historical importance of Tuscany could be judged from the fact that six of the Tuscan localities had been declared by UNESCO as protected sites over the years. The Florence historical center was included in the list in 1982, the Siena historical center in 1995, the Cathedral of Pisa square in 1987, the San Gimignano historical center in 1990, the Pienza historical center in 1996 and Val d’Orcia in 2004.

The population density of the region of Tuscany is only about 161 inhabitants for every square kilometer, much below the national average of around 200 inhabitants per km2. However, the cities have a better population density, with the capital, Florence, at more than 3,500 persons per km2. The other cities in this region, Livorno, Viareggio, Prato, Montecatini Terme, and Forte dei Marmi have more than an average of 1,000 inhabitants per km2. Apart from Italians, the population includes Chinese, British, and American immigrants, at about 7.5 percent of the population.

Due to this variation in the population density in the region, the least populated areas have agriculture as the main activity. The agricultural produce is chiefly cereals, olives, potatoes, and grapes, vegetables, beets, tobacco, and sunflowers produced from the previous swamplands that had been retrieved. The world famous Chianti wines are from the region of Tuscany, produced from the high quality grapes that are grown here.

In other areas, industrial activities thrive, supported by tourism and tourism-related services mainly due to the world famous beaches of the Tuscany region. Main industrial products from the region of Tuscany are glass, leather, clothing, and paper. Tuscany is famous for its rich mineral resources such as iron ore, lignite mines, mercury, copper, the large marble mines in Versilia, and soffioni or fumarole at Larderello. The steel, mining, and mechanical engineering industries are concentrated in the Livorno and Pisa coastal strip areas.

The Tuscany region consists of 8 provinces. They are Arezzo, Florence, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa-Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato, and Siena. The population of these provinces is about 345,600, 983,100, 225,200, 340,400, 389,500, 203,500, 409,300, 289,900, 246,400, and 268,800 respectively. The population density is the lowest at 50 people per km2 in Grosseto and the highest density is in Prato with 674.8 people per km2. At the same time, as a total contrast, the total area of Prato province is the lowest at 365 km2, with the province of Grosseto sprawling at the maximum area of 4,504 km2.

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Will artificial intelligence make us smarter or stupider?

by: Kathleen Thurston (reading – 22.8. - 28.8.)

Technology is now developing at an unprecedented rate as new technologies allow us to develop even more technologies at an exponential rate. Many have wondered whether a world run by increasingly intelligent machines will eventually cause us to become less intelligent.

The age of machines

This wouldn't be the first time that major advancements in technology resulted in changes in mankind. After the industrial revolution, when the work performed by manual laborers was outsourced to machines, people became less physically active. Many believe that our sedentary lifestyle and a worldwide obesity epidemic can be attributed to the industrial revolution. Of course, the industrial revolution wasn't all bad. Though it led to poorer physical health, it also likely contributed to greater human intelligence. Because humans were freed from monotonous manual labor, they were free to devote more time to intellectual pursuits. Furthermore, humans needed to be more intelligent to navigate a congested modern city than a small rural town.

The internet age

Now, we are in the internet age where limitless amounts of knowledge are at our fingertips. Anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone has access to virtually every bit of information that exists in the world. This has allowed humans to become even more intelligent.

The artificial intelligence age

The artificial intelligence age is still years ahead of us. But already we are beginning to see many early artificial intelligence systems taking over certain tasks. For instance, planes are for the most part flown by automatic pilot systems except during takeoff and landing. The task of handling air traffic at busy airports has become so monumental, that we have turned it over to artificial intelligence systems. Already, artificial intelligence has been able to beat Gary Kasparov, a chess genius, at his own game and Ken Jennings in a game of Jeopardy. Thanks to Moore's Law, which states that there will be an exponential increase in electronic processing capacity over time, artificial intelligence machines will be able to do more and more of the thinking for us. Already we have personal assistants like Siri (if you own an Apple device) or Cortana (if you own a Windows device running Windows 10). In the not too distant future, these personal assistants can become so advanced that they will automate much of our day-to-day tasks.

The easy life

The real question is whether a future with artificial intelligence will make us smarter or stupider. Just as the industrial revolution automated manual labor and made humans lazier, the artificial intelligence age could automate our thinking and make us stupider. However, also like the industrial revolution, the artificial intelligence age could also automate tasks that make us free to follow intellectual pursuits ultimately making us smarter. Only time will tell exactly how artificial intelligence will affect our day-to-day life.

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Hi I'm kathleen thurston. Im a blogger and a biochemist. you can email me at this address: I hope you like my post. Thanks and Godbless

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Tips on How to understand English

by: Bryan Carlin (reading – 29.8. - 4.9.)

"Learning English is something that you know you need to do. It can be a scary thing because so many students have failed to learn English fast in the past. Many students spend years studying English and almost learn nothing in the end. Here are some tips to help you learn the fastest.

You do want to learn English easily, and you do want to know how. Learn English easily online programs are your best bet to to get there fast and stress free. Many of these programs offer video, written and audio lessons that can be used anywhere, anytime. They also come with personal one on one training with a mentor. They are cheap and easily downloadable.

Get your mind set on your goal and keep a positive attitude throughout.

Practice your English a little everyday. Speaking the language is what will allow it to become a part of you.

Talk to English speakers. Spend time with English speakers and communicate with them using the vernacular. Not only will you be practicing your own speaking skills but you'll be picking up nuances they might have learned along the way.

Unleash your English skills to the world. When someone converses with you in English, don't hesitate to respond in kind. Start a free blog and write posts in the English language. You'll make mistakes but that will only help accelerate your development. Use the language freely and watch yourself improve by leaps and bounds."

The TOEFL Test: TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) is a test used by many colleges, universities, government agencies and exchange and scholarship programs in the US, UK and Canada as a means of evaluating the language skills of a person whose first language is not English. You can find TOEFL study guides easily online with other recommended resources listed. You may be able to access some of the sample tests and prepare with personal study. Or you may look for a class with an instructor to help you prepare for the test.

Practice, practice and...did I mention practice?

Practice: much of the English language is idiom and can only be learned with practice. Examples: a verb can have a totally different meaning when you use it with another word. get/get up, get over, get real ; hand/hand in, hand over, hand out ; look/look up, look good, look under

Keep a translation dictionary with you at all times to translate a certain word as you hear it. This keeps learning fresh and up to date.

Don't forget that learning a new language requires a lot of regular practice. But don't give up - you'll eventually achieve your goal. You just need to practice on a daily basis. Good luck and have fun while learning!"

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