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The first demonstration of laser action in ruby was made in 1960 by T. H. Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, USA. Many laboratories worldwide began the search for lasers using different materials, operating at different wavelengths. In the UK, academia, industry and the central laboratories took up the challenge from the earliest days to develop these systems for a broad range of applications. This historical review looks at the contribution the UK has made to the advancement of the technology, the development of systems and components and their exploitation over the last 60 years.
Worldwide, coastal and floodplain wetlands are rapidly urbanizing, making them highly vulnerable to biodiversity loss, biological invasion and climate change. Yet urban wetlands management is an understudied area of global environmental research. Different policy approaches and institutional arrangements in place for urban wetlands governance have to be studied comparatively to obtain a better understanding of the current issues. This paper investigates four urban wetland policy regimes and the application of ecological reference points across four countries. The regimes are discussed within the context of global policy trends, urbanization patterns and environmental change. The analysis illustrates that the four cases deviate substantially in certain characteristics and converge in others. Global trends such as environmental treaties and restructuring of city spaces are common policy drivers for all cases. Conversely, the localized specific problems have yielded specialized policy responses in each case. Declaration of fixed biological reference points for wetlands were not used at any stage of the policy development process. However, the wetland managers formally or informally set up ecosystem-services oriented benchmarks for urban wetland management. Globally-applicable normative policy directives or universal ecological reference points seem bound to fail in urban wetlands governance. However, in designing effective urban wetland policy and institutions at the regional scale, both context-specific and generalized lessons from empirical policy evaluation of multiple case studies need to be jointly considered. Based on the characteristics of the policy regimes analysed in this study, a hypothetical framework for urban wetland policy evaluation is proposed; this has yet to be validated by empirical application to actual cases.