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Madagascar mine ignites protests, community division

first_imgAn Australian mining company, Base Resources, plans to break ground soon on a mineral sands mining project in southwestern Madagascar.Base Resources says the project represents a development opportunity for the region. It has the support of most government officials and local mayors.But local opposition groups have called for an end to the project, citing the negative environmental impact it could have and insisting that it’s been made possible only through corrupt land deals.The battle over the project has played out in the Malagasy media for several years and is reaching a fever pitch as the project nears fruition. In the latest development, a Madagascar court released nine community members held for six weeks on accusations of participating in the destruction of Base Resources’ exploration campsite. FIANARANTSOA, Madagascar — Last month, a Madagascar court ended a six-week saga for people in the southwestern village of Benetse, near the city of Toliara. Nine members of the community had been detained without trial for several weeks following an act of civil disobedience against an Australian mining company, Base Resources, that plans to break ground soon on a mineral sands project in the area.Their friends and family in Benetse went to great lengths, literally, to support the nine after they were detained. In late May, more than a dozen villagers traveled for the first time to Fianarantsoa, a city hundreds of miles away on the country’s high plateau. But they weren’t able to enjoy the red gullied landscape of the highlands, so unlike the spiny forests and baobob trees back home in the dry, flat southwest. They were in Fianarantsoa to see their loved ones — small-scale farmers who had lately become known as the “Toliara 9” — stand trial.Emma Vazonandrasana and others in a bush taxi on the way home to the village of Benetse. They’d gone to Fianarantsoa, a city in the country’s central highlands, to support nine friends and family members who’d been detained for their alleged role in the destruction of Base Resources’s property. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.The nine men were apparently part of a group of around 40 community members that burned and vandalized Base Resources’ exploration campsite in April. In early May, authorities arrested the nine, charged them with arson, destruction of property, and forming a mob, and transferred them to prison in Fianarantsoa. They were scheduled to go before a judge on May 24, but at the last moment the trial was postponed for two weeks.“We are disappointed,” Emma Vazonandrasana, who was among those who made the 12-hour taxi-bus trip to Fianarantsoa, and whose brother and father were among the nine, told Mongabay the next day. “We spent so much time and money to be there. We are tired, tired of worrying, tired of the travel. We thought they would be released today.”However, Vazonandrasana’s side received welcome news on June 13, when the nine men were released. They were convicted of unarmed gathering without permission and given six-month prison sentences, but the sentences were suspended. The court gave the nine the benefit of the doubt with regard to arson and destruction of property.Civil society groups in Madagascar rejoiced at the verdict, even if they deemed the conviction and suspended sentence unfair. “It’s nice to see that this system works from time to time!” Ketakandriana Rafitoson, executive director of Transparency International Initiative Madagascar, wrote in response to an emailed communiqué from civil society groups that Mongabay received.The battle over the mineral sands project has played out in the Malagasy media for several years and is reaching a fever pitch as the project nears fruition. Base Resources plans to start construction this year and says the project represents a development opportunity for the region. It has the support of most government officials and local mayors. The company calls its deposit near Toliara “world class” and has indicated, in a televised interview, that it will have the highest profit margins of any mineral sands project in the world. But opposition groups based in Toliara, Benetse and nearby villages have called for an end to the project, citing the negative environmental impact it could have and insisting that it’s been made possible only through corrupt land deals.The prison in Fianarantsoa where the “Toliara 9” were held from early May until June 13. The prosecutor denied Mongabay access to the nine men while they were detained, saying that such visits weren’t allowed before the trial. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Demand for whitenessThe ultimate cause of the controversy is consumer demand for whiteness. Ilmenite, the main mineral in the deposit, yields titanium dioxide, which helps make paint, toothpaste and sunscreen white. The deposit also contains exploitable levels of rutile and zircon, which have similar uses as pigments. Another large mineral sands project, run by a subsidiary of London-based mining giant Rio Tinto, has been operating in Madagascar for about a decade, and has also faced opposition and scrutiny from local groups.Though mineral sands deposits exist in coastal areas the world over, they are most often exploited in the developing world, where environmental regulations are lax or difficult to enforce, Steven Emerman, a Utah-based geophysicist and consultant who has studied Rio Tinto’s Madagascar project, told Mongabay. (Australia, where mineral sands projects are better regulated, might be considered an exception.)One of the risks of mineral sands mining is exposure of both workers and the public to uranium and thorium, both radioactive metals. Uranium and thorium can get into local water supplies or be inhaled as dust. Thorium levels are especially high at the proposed mining site near Toliara, and “serious radioprotection measures” will be required to make the project safe, a 2014 study by chemists at the University of Antananarivo found. The zircon at the Toliara deposit is so high in uranium and thorium that Base Resources will not be able to sell it in the United States, Japan or the European Union, which will treat it as radioactive waste.“Who are they planning on selling this radioactive zircon to?” Emerman asked.Base Resources declined to share its environmental and social impact assessment with Mongabay. “The ESIA summary is currently very extensive and we do not currently have a shortened version for distribution,” Jean Bruno Ramahefarivo, the  company’s general manager for external affairs in Madagascar, said in a written statement to Mongabay. The statement was part of a long email exchange with company representatives, who did not respond to requests for clarification as to why the length of the impact assessment prevented it from being shared publicly.Base Resources is a small company compared to the likes of Rio Tinto. It made its name developing the Kwale mineral sands project in southern Kenya over the last decade. Looking for a second project, the company acquired Base Toliara, as its local subsidiary is now known, in January 2018. The company expects to create more than 850 permanent jobs, almost all for Malagasy nationals, and to pay the Madagascar government about $28 million in taxes and royalties each year from 2022 to 2054. There would also be knock-on employment and tax benefits as local suppliers did business with Base Toliara.The village of Tsianisiha, west of the proposed mining site. The population is divided about the project. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Base Toliara plans to use a “dry mining” technique. After removing the vegetation and stripping the topsoil, the company will excavate the sand to 20 meters (66 feet) below the surface. Bulldozers will push sand into “dozer mining units” that mix it with water, forming a slurry that will then be pumped to a plant where heavy mineral concentrate — the useful bit, making up about 6 percent of the original sand — is pulled out. This concentrate will be piped to a second plant and separated into ilmenite, rutile and zircon. The minerals will then be trucked via a private road to a small shipping terminal in Toliara.Plans for the road and terminal are particularly controversial. The road, exclusively for use by company vehicles, would cut through pastoral land and divide some farmers from the land they work, although the communities are being consulted on where crossing points can be built. The terminal would be built on Andaboy Beach, which many local people consider sacred. The site of spiritual rites, it is sometimes littered with coins, and there are taboos about eating pork before going there. Large crowds gather around Andaboy on holidays such as Easter, and local fishers use it as a base of operations.A group called Zanadriake (meaning “Children of the sea”) has opposed the terminal construction plans for many years. A middle-aged member named Gano told Mongabay that he was proud to have earned his living as a Vezo — an ethnic identification associated with living off the sea. He has been a fisher and sea-cucumber diver for 37 years, earning enough to send his children to school. Like others in the group, he said he regards any agreement to lease the land at Andaboy to a foreign company as a betrayal of Vezo tradition, and one that will only benefit white-collar workers.“If Base Toliara occupies it for its mineral sands project, where will we earn our living from?” Gano asked. “Are we not human beings? They at Base Toliara have skills, so they are human beings. But we that do not have skills, we are not [treated like] human beings.”Base Toliara told Mongabay that its terminal will take up only 2 hectares (5 acres) of a large beach area, and that the jetty will be high enough for pirogues to sail under, between the pillars. The company plans to build an artificial reef to increase the catch for local fishers.Gano (in red cap), a member of Zanadriake, an organization of fishers and divers that opposes Base Resources’s plan to build a small port at the beach near Toliara, looks on as his friend Gentsy shows a video of the beach during a crowded holiday. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Fears of displacementDemonstrations against the project have become commonplace in recent years. The leading faces of the opposition are Théo Rakotovao, a well-known Malagasy musician who comes from the region and has sung about the mining controversy, and Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, a member of parliament from a neighboring area who has given rousing speeches about the mine. They have led protests at the beach and in the streets over the past two years. Representatives of community opposition groups have also traveled to the capital Antananarivo to register their discontent with the central government.In addition to concerns over environmental impact, the protests are about land rights, including cultural and economic displacement. The first thing many local people point out is that there are tombs on the land (91 of them, according to Base Toliara). The company says the families have agreed to have the tombs moved and will be given three zebu cattle as compensation, in line with Malagasy tradition.Twenty households live on the deposit itself, some of whose members work for the company and have agreed to move. However, the project will impact the livelihoods of many more people who farm and raise animals on that land. The company acknowledges this “resource utilization” and says it will compensate them for the loss, probably by the end of July, in accordance with Madagascar law and International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 5, which deals with involuntary resettlement.As a foreign-owned company, Base Toliara can’t own land; it must lease it from the national government. The government is currently in the process of buying or otherwise taking possession of the necessary land. This creates conflict because many local people don’t have formal deeds to the land they live on, let alone the land they farm or graze their animals on. Even without deeds, they have land rights under Madagascar law, but in practice these are not always honored.Even if a company such as Base Toliara does everything above board, the lack of transparent governance in Madagascar can open the door for unscrupulous mayors and regional officials to abuse their power. They decide who owns untitled land — land that has suddenly become very valuable — and this can create a great deal of resentment among community members.Manantsoa Ratsimaro, a Mazoto supporter and 61-year-old farmer in the village of Tsianisiha, stands outside his house next to campaign material for President Andry Rajoelina. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.A people divided The mayors of the five affected communes, each containing many villages, support Base Toliara. Jean Manantena Mahatokisa, the mayor of Tsianisiha, told Mongabay the mining project will bring jobs and progress as he fixed the ink cartridge on an old typewriter in his office. Although he was mildly critical of the company’s communication strategy, he said he’d seen no corruption, and he claimed that 95 percent of his constituents supported the project.The mayor’s math seemed well off the mark. Many residents of Tsianisiha and the other communes adamantly oppose the mining project. Most people stopped at random by Mongabay proudly declared their affiliation with the main opposition group, Mazoto (meaning “motivated” or “eager”).Manantsoa Ratsimaro, a Mazoto supporter and 61-year-old farmer in Tsianisiha, called the mayors of the five communes “traitors.” Standing near his thatch-roofed house, he pointed out the plums, cassavas and twining plants growing in his yard. “I’ll never agree to let Base Toliara exploit my land because my descendants need to live off of it,” he told Mongabay. “Without the land, they will suffer. They did not finish school. I will not accept the project even in exchange for a billion ariary [around $275,000]. I would spend that money quickly and it wouldn’t have any effect on my descendants. However, things that we eat here are abundant and will last even after I’m gone. [My descendants] can grow old with them.”Manantsoa Ratsimaro sits outside his house with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “I’ll never agree to let Base Toliara exploit my land because my descendants need to live off it,” he said. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.However, there is debate about what people such as Ratsimaro can legitimately call their land, and there is a current of local support for the mining project. Some people, especially those with more schooling, are excited by the job opportunities it presents. “Young people will work for them [Base Toliara]. Older people will work for them,” Alexis, a resident of Ranobe, a village near the proposed mining site and the father of several children, told Mongabay. “This will put an end to crime because criminals will find jobs. Robberies result from hunger and poverty. If Base Toliara comes to life, robbery and poverty will be no more, and the area will develop.”Some villagers told Mongabay that they think of Base Toliara in the same way they think of charities that have worked in the area. The company has already spent $400,000 on social projects, such as the construction of three deep wells. If exploitation commences, Base Toliara will be required by Madagascar law to spend $500,000 annually on social projects; the company says it plans to go beyond that and spend at least $1 million to $2 million.Alexis, a resident of Ranobe, one of the villages closest to the proposed mining site, supports the project, mainly for the jobs it will create and the security this will provide. “Robberies result from hunger and poverty. If Base Toliara comes to life, robbery and poverty will be no more, and the area will develop.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Madagascar’s mining minister visited the Base Toliara concession area in March and said he would report on the issue to President Andry Rajoelina, who has remained silent on the project but tends to support the extractive industries. The president’s communications team declined to comment for this article. Madagascar’s mining ministry did not respond to requests for comment.Base Toliara’s exploitation permit is of questionable validity. The Madagascar government that issued the 40-year permit in 2012 may not have had the authority to do so. It was a “transition” government led by Rajoelina, who had come to power following a 2009 coup d’état. Rajoelina is now the country’s legitimate president, having won the 2018 election, but his earlier administration had, under international pressure, agreed not to make such far-reaching deals. “The Transitional Government shall be responsible for administering the day-to-day affairs of the country…It will refrain from making new long-term commitments,” reads the Roadmap for Ending the Crisis in Madagascar signed by Rajoelina in September 2011, which became Malagasy law later that year. (It was Rajoelina’s signing of this agreement that allowed him to receive some official recognition by the United Nations, which had previously shunned him.) When Mongabay questioned Base Resources about this issue in an email, Ramahefarivo replied: “The exploitation permit was acquired by the previous owners and is considered valid.”Base Toliara has exploration rights — but not exploitation permits — at three other large concessions in southwest Madagascar. Few people in the region seem to know about these. Base Resources representatives told Mongabay that it has done no research in those three areas and does not know if Malagasy people live there. However, an anthropologist who works in the region told Mongabay that the sites are “absolutely” inhabited; that there are a number of villages and hamlets in and around the concessions, including many that are visible on maps; that the concession areas are important for rice production; and that it was puzzling that Base Resources would deny knowing that.Gano (in red cap) and other members of Zanadriake look at a map of Base Resources’s concessions in the region. One man points at the blue dot that represents Toliara, the city where many of the group’s members live, and where the company is planning to build a small port that they object to. The company plans to begin construction on the concession nearest to Toliara this year. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Banditry or protest?Ramahefarivo referred to the people who burned the company’s campsite as “bandits” in an email to Mongabay, and he told a Malagasy journalist that the idea that the Toliara 9 were defending their rights was a “pure lie”. However, the event was orchestrated in the manner of civil disobedience. About 40 protesters took action together, both men and women, in the light of day. They did not injure anyone; they invited television crews, who recorded the event; and they vandalized property, including samples of ilmenite and zircon, directly in front of gendarmes, who were also filming.The people of Benetse did not feel anyone should be imprisoned for the action. “They are innocent people who protected the tanindraza [the land of the ancestors]” Emma Vazonandrasana, the young woman who tried to see the trial in Fianarantsoa, said of the nine who were arrested, using the Malagasy word for one’s family or community land.Children in a coastal village west of Base Resource’s main mining concession stand near a campaign poster for Théo Rakotovao, a musician who opposes the mining project. Rakotovao ran unsuccessfully for parliament in May. “I entered into politics in order to protect people,” he said. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Even with the Toliara 9 now free, the controversy surrounding the project is likely to continue. The company hopes to ship the first ilmenite in 2021. Opposition groups such as Mazoto have no clear-cut plan to stop the project and seem to be running out of time, but are hoping that their determination will somehow pay off.“If the people don’t agree, the mining company should go home,” said Rakotovao, the musician and opposition leader. “They can exploit mineral sands in Australia.”last_img read more

Audio: David Quammen on ecological restoration, emerging diseases, evolutionary science, and more

first_imgIn a recent piece for National Geographic, where he is a regular contributor, Quammen profiles Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique — once touted by none other than E.O. Wilson himself, in an interview with Mongabay, as a place where successful restoration efforts were underway and benefitting nature, wildlife, and humans.Another recent focus of Quammen’s work has been emerging diseases — his 2014 book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, for instance, looks at the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases, especially viral diseases like ebola. That made his appearance on the Newscast particularly well-timed, because the day before taping the interview, the World Health Organization announced that an ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become a global health emergency, only the fifth time the WHO has ever made such a declaration.Quammen’s most recent book, 2018’s The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, explores the revolution in how scientists understand the history of evolution on Earth sparked by the work of Carl Woese.David Quammen appears on the Mongabay Newscast to discuss all of the above as well as what gives him hope that biodiversity loss and destruction of the natural world can be halted.Here’s this episode’s top news:From over 100,000 species assessments in IUCN update, zero improvementsJune 2019 was the hottest on record: NOAAU.S. Virgin Islands bans coral-damaging sunscreensWould you like to hear how Mongabay grew out of its founder’s childhood adventures in rainforests and a fascination with frogs? Or how a Mongabay editor reacted to meeting one of the world’s last Bornean rhinos? We now offer Insider Content that delivers behind-the-scenes reporting and stories like these from our team. For a small monthly donation, you’ll get exclusive access and support our work in a new way. Visit mongabay.com/insider to learn more and join the growing community of Mongabay readers on the inside track.If you enjoy the Mongabay Newscast, we ask that you please consider becoming a monthly sponsor via our Patreon page, at patreon.com/mongabay. Just a dollar per month will really help us offset the production costs and hosting fees, so if you’re a fan of our audio reports from nature’s frontline, please support the Mongabay Newscast at patreon.com/mongabay.You can subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast on Android, the Google Podcasts app, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, RSS, Castbox, Pocket Casts, and via Spotify. Or listen to all our episodes via the Mongabay website here on the podcast homepage.The lion population in Gorongosa National Park is on the rebound thanks to the Gorongosa Restoration Project. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY 2.0.Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Mike Gaworecki Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Today we speak with award-winning science writer, author, and journalist David Quammen about some of the most promising and fascinating trends in conservation and evolutionary science.In a recent piece for National Geographic, where he is a regular contributor, Quammen profiles Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. His 2014 book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, looks at the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases. Quammen’s most recent book, 2018’s The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, explores the revolution in how scientists understand the history of evolution on Earth sparked by the work of Carl Woese.David Quammen appears on the Mongabay Newscast to discuss all of the above as well as what gives him hope that biodiversity loss and destruction of the natural world can be halted. Today we speak with award-winning science writer, author, and journalist David Quammen about some of the most promising and fascinating trends in conservation and evolutionary science.Listen here: Books, Diseases, Ecological Restoration, Ecosystem Restoration, Environment, Environmental Journalism, Evolution, Interviews, Interviews With Environmental Journalists, Journalism, National Parks, Podcast, Protected Areas, Restoration, Science last_img read more

Humans have been transforming Earth for thousands of years, study says

first_imgArticle published by Shreya Dasgupta Agriculture, Archeology, Climate Change, Deforestation, Environment, Forests, Green, Land Use Change, Livestock, Research Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Some 3,000 years ago, our human ancestors were already substantially transforming Earth’s surface by farming and grazing livestock, according to a new study that crowdsourced the expert knowledge of more than 250 archaeologists from the around the world.This massive collaboration, termed the ArchaeGLOBE project, has helped build the first ever global picture of how human activities were altering the planet’s surface from 10,000 years ago right up to 1850.These estimates of the spread of agriculture and pastoralism suggest that humans were significantly transforming the planet earlier than what some recent studies and databases show, the researchers say.The ArchaeoGLOBE project dataset, however, has several data gaps and presents only part of our planet’s history. Look around, and you’ll see examples of how we’ve modified our planet’s land surface: roads, buildings, farms, plantations. But is the widespread human impact on Earth a modern occurrence? No, according to a new study published in Science.Some 3,000 years ago, our ancestors were already stripping away forests and substantially transforming Earth’s surface through farming and grazing livestock, researchers have found by crowdsourcing the expert knowledge of more than 250 archaeologists from the around the world.Archaeologists typically focus on a particular region and time period. But this massive collaboration, termed the ArchaeGLOBE project, has helped build the first ever global picture of how human activities were altering the planet’s surface from 10,000 years ago, long before there were written records to keep track of the same, right up to 1850, or after the industrial revolution.“Our open access dataset provides the first globally consistent dataset on land use over the past 10,000 years that is based on the expert knowledge of archaeologists,” Erle Ellis, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, told Mongabay. “It describes both the global patterns of this knowledge over time, and the timing of the emergence of agriculture, pastoralism and urbanism, and the decline of hunter-gatherer land use.”To piece together humankind’s history of land use, the researchers divided Earth’s surface into 146 analytical regions spanning all continents except Antarctica. Then they sent out questionnaires to more than 1,300 archaeologists, asking them to contribute their understanding of how ancient peoples used the land in those regions at 10 different time points between 10,000 years ago up to 1850.They received responses from 255 of the archaeologists, whose local knowledge helped the researchers map some broad global historical patterns.Ten thousand years ago, for example, foragers and hunter-gatherers were widespread, while agriculture and pastoralism, or the practice of raising livestock, had been established in just a few regions around Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean.By 8,000 years ago, pastoralism had spread out to arid areas such as North Africa and Eurasia, and by 4,000 years ago it had become common and widespread across the planet. Some form of agriculture, too, had spread to nearly half of the studied regions and become widespread by 3,000 years ago. Over that same period, foraging, hunting and gathering declined.“One of the key questions remaining is to what degree hunter-gatherers modified landscapes around the world through burning, propagation of favored species, and other niche-constructing practices,” Ellis said. “Though our work confirms that hunter-gatherer use of land was widespread in most of the world by 10,000 years ago, the degree of their landscape modification and its local and global consequences demands further study.”Time-lapse map showing the spread of intensive agriculture across the globe over the past 10,000 years, based on ArchaeoGLOBE Project results. Image by Nicolas Gauthier.Time-lapse map showing the spread of pastoralism across the globe over the past 10,000 years, based on ArchaeoGLOBE Project results. Image by Nicolas Gauthier.These estimates of the spread of agriculture and pastoralism suggest that humans were significantly transforming the planet earlier than what some recent studies and data show, the researchers say. This includes the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) model, a popular database of past land-use change that scientists frequently use to predict future environmental changes.“We weren’t entirely surprised by the main findings because archaeologists have long been critical of the existing historical reconstructions of global land use based on models,” Ellis said. “However, we were impressed by the fact that archaeological experts confirmed that intensive agriculture emerged earlier, by centuries to thousands of years in many regions, than in the land use history model most used by Earth scientists.”K. Anupama, a researcher at the Laboratory of Palynology & Paleoecology, French Institute of Pondicherry, India, also said the results weren’t unexpected.“Traditionally, Earth and Ecological Sciences have been developed with a very clear distinction of ‘nature’ and ‘natural systems’ as something apart from all things ‘human’ or ‘human-made and/or human impacted,’” Anupama, who was not involved in the study, said in an email. “For long, this has been reflected in the assumptions underlying climate and earth system models too.“Archeologists, historians and the humanities in general have known better — even if their studies are bracketed as ‘qualitative,’” she added. “This paper, though the methodology is not robust, can be commended especially for its efforts to build transdisciplinary bridges that could eventually help obtain the ‘quantitative’ land use data that is key to modeling efforts that use past data to help predict futures in our planet Earth.”The ArchaeoGLOBE project dataset presents only part of our planet’s story. There are geographical gaps in archaeological evidence, for example. Many areas in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, in particular, have not been studied much with regard to ancient land use.“Many interrelated factors are responsible for the history of research in these areas, including resources and training available to archaeologists who study these areas, and the legacy of archaeological focus on ‘big monumental’ sites that draw tourists,” Lucas Stephens, who led the study while he was a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, told Mongabay.It was also a challenge to connect with archaeologists outside the English-speaking world, Ellis said.“There were also regions where archaeologists had different assessments on land use histories, making consensus more difficult,” he added. “Nevertheless, we were delighted overall by the very positive responses of the more than 250 archaeologists that spent the time to contribute to our project.”Evidence of past land use is hard to come by, especially at the global scale. So, despite the data gaps and biases, the ArchaeoGLOBE project presents the “first approximation of the global history of land use,” Stephens said.“The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] just recently released its report on land use, food production, and climate change, reinforcing the idea that these are critical issues for the future of the Earth,” Stephens added. “But there is also a deep history of anthropogenic changes to the planet that has yet to be meaningfully incorporated in these discussions. That needs to change, and the ArchaeoGLOBE Project is a big step forward in doing so.”Banner image of Val de Navarrés, País Valenciano, Spain, by Michael Barton.Citation:Stephens, L., Fuller, D., Boivin, N., Rick, T., Gauthier, N., Kay, A., … Ellis, E. (2019). Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use. Science, 365(6456), 897-902. doi:10.1126/science.aax1192last_img read more

Gravely injured orangutan rescued near site of controversial hydropower project

first_imgA severely injured and malnourished Tapanuli orangutan has been rescued from a plantation near the site of a controversial hydropower project in Sumatra.The animal was found to have deep, infected gashes on its head and under its arm, which rescuers say were likely inflicted by humans.The orangutan may have been fleeing forest-clearing activity near the project site, which is located in the Batang Toru forest, the only known habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan.This is not the first instance of orangutans apparently being driven out of their habitat by the project, which environmental activists and scientists say must be put on hold to protect the rarest great ape species in the world. JAKARTA — A severely injured and malnourished orangutan has been rescued from a plantation near a Sumatra forest where a hydropower project threatens the only known habitat of this particular species of great ape.Locals spotted the male Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), believed to be about 30 years old, inside a plantation in Aek Batang Paya village, South Tapanuli district, on the edge of the Batang Toru forest. They reported it to the local conservation department, known as the BKSDA, which then enlisted the Orangutan Information Center (OIC), a conservation NGO, to help confirm the finding.Officials from the BKSDA and OIC traveled to the site on the night of Sept. 18 and found the badly injured orangutan in the plantation the next morning.“Our medical team found injuries that are very critical because there is a gash on his head,” OIC head Panut Hadisiswoyo told Mongabay. “There is also a big stab wound under his left armpit.“Our team suspects that the wounds were caused by sharp weapons. If the injuries were a result of the orangutan fighting with other animals, then there should be scratch wounds, not stab wounds,” he said, emphasizing that the orangutan had most likely been attacked by humans.The attack appears to have occurred several days earlier, given the condition of the wounds, Panut said.“His wounds were already infested with maggots,” he said.The BKSDA and OIC officials immediately evacuated the orangutan to a quarantine center managed by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) for medical treatment.It’s not immediately clear who could have attacked the orangutan, although it’s common for the animals to be shot at and hacked by farmers who consider them a pest.A deep gash is clearly visible above the left eye of the male Tapanuli orangutan found in a plantation in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.Wake-up callThis isn’t the first time a Tapanuli orangutan has been found outside the Batang Toru ecosystem, the only known habitat of the critically endangered species but also the site of a controversial hydroelectric power plant project.A year ago, Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry reported that preconstruction activity for the dam and power plant had driven a group of Tapanuli orangutans out of their habitat and into nearby plantations.“So it’s already proven that the project has already dealt an impact,” Wiratno, the ministry’s director general for conservation, told Mongabay at the time. “While there’s no casualty yet, it’s an indication that the project must have had an impact [on the orangutans].”Panut said this latest discovery — in a plantation just 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) from the hydropower project site — should serve as a wake-up call for the government to protect the ape’s habitat by designating the Batang Toru ecosystem a protected forest. The Tapanuli orangutan, described in 2017 and already teetering on the brink of extinction, lives in pockets of the 1,338-square-kilometer (516-square-mile) Batang Toru ecosystem. The habitat has been fragmented by infrastructure projects such as roads, causing the population of the orangutans to plummet by 83 percent over the course of three generations.Fewer than 800 individuals are believed to survive in a tiny tract of forest less than one-fifth the size of the metropolitan area that comprises Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.Some of the orangutans live in areas zoned for conversion, also known as APL. These areas cover 100 to 150 square kilometers (39 to 58 square miles), or 15 percent of the Tapanuli orangutans’ habitats. They also have the highest biodiversity of the entire Batang Toru ecosystem and also the highest densities of Tapanuli orangutans, with more than 10 percent of the population residing in these APL areas.Due to this APL designation, these areas aren’t protected and thus are at risk of encroachment or being cleared for industrial purposes, including the $1.6 billion hydroelectric plant and dam. The 510-megawatt plant was announced in 2012 and will be the largest in Sumatra if completed as planned by 2022.The Indonesian government considers it a priority project under President Joko Widodo’s wider infrastructure-building push. The government argues that the plant is needed to provide electricity from renewable sources in the region and to mitigate climate change. The project’s developer, PT North Sumatera Hydro Energy (NSHE) says the plant will prevent the release of up to 1.6 million tons of CO2 every year from Indonesia’s coal-reliant grid.Panut said it was possible that the injured ape had been fleeing from forest-clearing activity around the project site.“Maybe there’s a connection with forest clearing, whether it’s because of agriculture or because of the hydropower plant,” he said.That gives added urgency to designate the area as protected, he added.“Even though the area has an APL designation, it’s still the habitat of the orangutan,” Panut said. “More and more forests are being cleared in the area because of the APL designation, when it should be a protected forest area.”In response to the discovery of the injured orangutan, PT NSHE spokesman Firman Taufick said it wasn’t unusual for the apes to wander into nearby plantations in search of foods. He added that such behavior was known even before construction of the dam began.“Based on observations by locals since decades ago, when it is fruit season, like the current durian season, orangutans always come to locals’ plantations,” he told Mongabay. “So it’s not only this time an orangutan enters a local’s plantation.”Firman added that the company condemned the injuries to the animal and would continue its conservation program to protect the orangutans.“We see that the locals of South Tapanuli have local wisdoms in protecting the environment and wildlife,” he said. “In this case, we have empowered the locals with a conservation program, including wildlife, by conducting training and by forming conservation groups based on local wisdoms. The efforts to protect wildlife in the Batang Toru ecosystem are the responsibility of all parties, not only the government and the private sector.”Rescuers check the extent of the orangutan’s injuries in preparation to evacuate the animal for medical treatment. Image courtesy of the Orangutan Information Center (OIC).Call for moratoriumEarlier this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called for a halt to all projects that threaten the Tapanuli orangutan.“IUCN is deeply concerned about ongoing and new threats to the Critically Endangered Tapanuli orangutan in Sumatra, Indonesia,” the organization said on its website.While the IUCN didn’t specifically mention the hydropower project in its statement, it recommended that all projects affecting the apes should be halted to allow time to formulate a plan to save the Tapanuli orangutan. Such a plan, the IUCN added, should be based on an independent and objective population- and habitat-viability assessment.Primatologist Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores University, who discussed the dam project with the IUCN before the latter issued its statement, urged PT NSHE to follow the IUCN’s recommendation.“But the company never agreed to that,” Wich, who is also the co-vice chair of the section on great apes of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, told Mongabay. “For me, the fact that the company doesn’t want that is a clear indication that they’re not interested in mitigation. They just want to go ahead with the project and secure financing.”NSHE’s Firman said the company had fulfilled all the requirements to proceed with the project. He added the company had not engaged with the IUCN but was open to communicating with it.Clarification 9/23/2019: This article originally ran with the headline ‘Orangutan found injured in apparent escape from site of hydropower project’. It has been changed to reflect that injury during escape from the hydropower project site is just one possible explanation for the ape’s injuries.Banner image of an injured Tapanuli orangutan being rescued from a plantation in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Image courtesy of the Orangutan Information Center (OIC).FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Animal Cruelty, Animals, Apes, Biodiversity, Critically Endangered Species, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Endangered Species, Energy, Environment, Forest Destruction, Forests, Great Apes, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Infrastructure, New Species, Orangutans, Primates, Rainforest Animals, Rainforests, Renewable Energy, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

15 years after tsunami, Aceh reckons with an inconsistent fisheries recovery

first_imgArticle published by mongabayauthor When a tsunami killed tens of thousands of people in Indonesia’s Aceh province, international donors contributed billions of dollars to disaster recovery effortsToday, gaps in post-disaster recovery are still visible. A breakdown of community dynamics post-disaster limited the effectiveness of some initiatives.The example of Aceh provides lessons to be learned for future disaster recoveries under the “build back better” approach, including the importance of long-term thinking when it comes to such initiatives. BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Aceh is one of those destinations that glimmer chimerically on the horizon, alluring with its newness, but ever receding, ever retreating in memory with the passage of time. There are picturesque cliffs to the west if you drive on the coastal highway from capital city of Banda Aceh to the town of Calang, with the pristine, azure sea swirling foam to the east. Against the backdrop of colorful jetties are small shops decorated with curtains made by dangling threads of dried fish, octopuses splayed out like kites, and even stingrays. The threads twist and sway in the salty breeze like wind charms, the more browned portions of seafood skin shimmering in the sunlight, as humming women with infants tied in slings around their chests dole out anchovies on tarp-lined wooden tables. The older children run around their fishermen fathers closer to the water, unable to recall a time of catastrophe.Nearly 15 years ago, Aceh, a province on the northwestern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, was severely hit by a 9.1 magnitude undersea earthquake that triggered one of the world’s biggest natural disasters. Massive waves rose up to 30 meters (100 feet) the day after Christmas in 2004, just 255 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of Banda Aceh. Nearly 230,000 people were reported dead or missing across a dozen countries; Indonesia itself accounted for nearly 168,000 of them. Much of Aceh was flattened, and television crews from around the world arrived to broadcast mountains of rubble, flatlands of black mud, and white shrouds filling up mass graves. Soon after, agencies — nonprofits, foreign governments, and aid organizations — teamed up for Aceh’s resurrection with an ambitious motto to “build back better.” The tsunami had acted as a circuit breaker to a three-decade-long separatist war between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, and along with the peace, the recovery efforts aimed at the socioeconomic betterment of the locals.Nearly 500 agencies teamed up to raise an unparalleled amount of funding at that time that totaled up to $7.7 billion. Within a four-year period, they prioritized newer and stronger infrastructure for the province and built 140,000 homes, close to 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) of road — including the western coastal highway rebuilt by USAID — 1,700 schools, 1,000 government buildings, and 36 airports and seaports. The physical spine of Aceh was spectacular; however, under tight deadlines and pressure from private donors for visible results, there were no quick fixes for tackling long-term drivers of vulnerability such as livelihood and social recovery. Now, 15 years later, gaps in post-disaster recovery are still visible. Unable to sustain growth despite the infrastructure, Aceh remains extremely poverty-ridden as per recent reports, with a slow economy and high unemployment rate.Ever since the 2004 tsunami, the aspirational phrase “build back better” has found its way into several disaster recovery plans and guidelines, including the U.N.-endorsed Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This story looks back at Aceh to see what lessons have been learned to make that goal more inclusive of livelihoods in affected areas — particularly the case of fisheries in Aceh, which provided direct employment for more than 80,000 people, or 16 percent of the total coastal population, prior to the tsunami.Boats not worth usingSharifuddin sits repairing his lobster cages in a decrepit harbor in the tsunami-affected town of Calang nearly three hours away from Banda Aceh on the highway, on a platform overlooking a pier full of boats and canoes. The air is filled with the rotting smell of garbage. Nearby, there is an abandoned fuel pump (recently constructed but unused), and an empty marketplace filled with nylon ropes and plastic. There is a concrete pier, but the fishermen loading their boats use a wooden one they built themselves, claiming that the former splashes water and floods their vessels. Just a little ahead of where most of the boats are moored, a man floats on top of a rubber tire in green, murky water, trying to catch fish.Abandoned boats provided as tsunami aid decay along a pier in Aceh. Image by Indrajeet Rajkhowa for Mongabay.Two big white boats decay on the sandbank. In their prime, the vessels would have outshone any other boat along this pier. But several years later, they have been eaten away by salt and time. “Not worth using,” Sharifuddin says. The boats were donated by nonprofits as part of the assistance programs after the tsunami, but they were never used. According to Sharifuddin, they were too light and not suited for the waves and wind in Aceh. Another white-and-blue boat donated by the Japanese rests unused under casuarina trees on Lamreh beach, an hour from downtown Banda Aceh.In 2004, there were 15,576 fishing boats in Aceh, according to a study based on data from the provincial fisheries department. Then the tsunami hit and the fishing community suffered exorbitantly, both in human and material loss: nearly 10,000 fishers lost their lives and close to 70 percent of Aceh’s small-scale fleet was destroyed. By 2008, the number of boats had increased to 17,584, thanks to development assistance. But by 2011, after the aid agencies had left, the number of boats in Aceh dropped back to 15,995. Research claims that this decline was due largely to poor-quality and inappropriate boats donated by the NGOs.The aid agencies tried solving problems in an expedited time frame without adequate assessment of requirements, through a deluge of short-term recovery programs, cash grants and immediate distribution of boats and gear that would result in visible impact for the media and donors. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the agencies did not have the technical capacity to provide the right inputs, and some of them chose to ignore scientific standards and norms in the eagerness to provide aid. Boats were made with poorly selected timber, inadequate through-hull fittings and pipework, and thin planking. The agencies did not monitor their boat-building programs sufficiently, and some commissioned builders took on more projects than they could deliver adequately, compromising the quality of the vessels.An abandoned gas pump along a pier in Aceh. Image by Indrajeet Rajkhowa for Mongabay.During the construction tizzy, there was a concern of overfishing due to an excess number of boats. Eventually, as the vessels started to fail, the FAO recommended that unsafe boats not be handed over to beneficiaries but be modified or even broken up.Michael Boyland, a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), found similar cases in the city of Tacloban in the Philippines that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The city government also claimed to use “build back better” as one of the central approaches to its disaster recovery program. Boats were provided that were not usable, so many people repurposed the wood for shelters and furniture. The donor markings are still visible on homemade tables in some cases. “Of course coordination in disasters of this [large] scale is not easy, but I think it is also driven by a need to be doing something helpful in the immediate aftermath, and there is not always time to sufficiently plan and consult everybody before acting — especially when there are lives at stake,” Boyland says. He suggests disaster preparation before the event to map out tentative allocation of resources across the spectrum of immediate response and recovery interventions as much as possible.Impact on traditional fishing platformsBack in Aceh, Zulfikar, a 43-year-old fisherman, drives his worn-out red boat from his fish ponds to a brightly colored contraption in the waters several kilometers off the coast of his village, Lhok Seudu, which is along the west coast of Aceh, 35 kilometers from Banda Aceh’s city center. Anchored atop two boats is a platform that he and eight or nine other fishermen use during the eastern monsoons, attracting fish at night using lamps. When dawn breaks, they return to the waterfront in their boats to sell their catch.This traditional fishing vessel is known as a palong. When the tsunami hit Aceh, it also devastated several palongs along its coastline. Fishermen could not afford to rebuild the destroyed communal platforms, so the agencies stepped in. John McCarthy, a development specialist at the Australian National University, surveyed some of the new palongs eight years after the disaster and found only a few of them to be working, depending one major factor: how long after the tsunami the palongs were rebuilt.The Singapore Red Cross sponsored local builders to construct five palongs in the surveyed villages. By 2012, four of them were still operating. The nonprofit had initiated the project after enough time had passed since the tsunami and the local fishers felt comfortable returning to the sea. The main fishing village oversaw the platforms’ operation, with each hamlet head supervising an individual palong. There was enough time and space given for the community to self-organize and distribute benefits and responsibilities. The palong heads learned to repair the platforms and to protect the asset as private owners.Zulfikar, a fisherman, shows the palong he works on during the eastern monsoons. Image by Indrajeet Rajkhowa for Mongabay.In contrast, the Asian Development Bank funded the construction of six palongs. By 2012, none of the platforms were in operation. Commissions by Oxfam and USAID in neighboring villages faced similar fates. As per McCarthy’s study, each of the unsuccessful projects had been initiated immediately after the tsunami, when the villagers were not psychologically motivated to go back to the sea and were dependent directly on emergency relief. The projects were also handed to fishing cooperatives or user groups set up by the agencies outside accepted local authority structures. In each case, the villagers had either failed to maintain the palong or had experienced internal conflicts within the cooperatives, or the cooperative had fallen into debt. Processes were not set up in detail for these community groups, and a lack of ownership and accountability resulted in a plethora of financial problems that led to some of the palongs being abandoned or sold.Including indigenous community networksThe deficiencies in group management arose from the breakdown of community dynamics post-disaster. The old, indigenous enforcement institution for fisheries in Acehnese communities is known as panglima laot, which roughly translates to “sea commander.” This system has date back up to 400 years, to the time when Aceh was a sultanate. The name also doubles up for the leader of the fishing community, the most learned and experienced individual in fishing practices, who ensures that the rules of the sea, or hukom adat laot, are followed — for instance, no trawlers and explosives are allowed for fishing to prevent environmental degradation. One of the tragedies of the tsunami was the death of 59 of 193 of these customary leaders in different pockets, and with them the loss of local knowledge and an interconnected functional community. The coastal members who survived the tsunami almost immediately elected their new panglima laot, but in many cases, the new leaders were often either very young and inexperienced, or elderly and unprepared to take on the responsibility. Many who were not full-time fishing skippers got elected. The fishery projects that were evaluated to be successful by researchers in the post-disaster recovery process engaged in strengthening of these social structures.Baharuddin, one of the surviving Panglima Laot leaders, oversees daily fishing activities in Lam Teungoh village. Image by Indrajeet Rajkhowa for Monagbay.However, research done by Boyland and his colleagues from SEI in 2015 revealed that many of the local fishing communities led by their panglima laot did not embrace the ambitious aim of “building back better” within the mandated recovery time frame. Instead, they wanted to return to their pre-tsunami livelihoods.One example of this is Baharuddin, one of the surviving chiefs in Lam Teungoh village, who had vehemently opposed the government’s proposal of a coastal buffer that prohibited permanent construction of new buildings within a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius of low-lying coastal areas. Fishermen like him must live by the sea, he explains, despite the fact that he lost almost every member of his family in the tsunami — his father, mother, brother, sister, wife, teenage son and four daughters, including a 1-month-old infant. “I said to the government, before you ask me [to relocate], you ask the people who live close to the sea in Jakarta,” he laughs. The people who live by the ocean in Indonesia’s capital are as dependent on it for livelihood as his community is in Aceh. Widespread resistance to the coastal buffer finally led to the government rescinding its prohibition in mid-2005.Boyland attributes this to the failed pantomime between the aid agencies and the people: “Fairly soon after the disaster, the United Nations, represented by Bill Clinton and the NGOs were pushing for a ‘build back better’ approach — saying ‘let’s use this as an opportunity to make these places better than they were before.’ But was ‘build-back better’ well-defined and commonly understood beyond principles? Were the people of Aceh consulted on this? Was the historical context of Aceh fully understood by outside actors? Arguably, not nearly enough in all cases.”According to Boyland, the balance lies in keeping livelihood central to different aspects of post-disaster recovery such as housing reconstruction, relocation, community participation, and infrastructure. Livelihood is primarily thought of in terms of income, he says, but is in fact a more durable solution that encompasses human, financial, natural, physical and social needs.Multidimensional recoveryThe overall story of fisheries in Aceh is one of inconsistent progress, and 15 years later, this has contributed to Aceh’s economic slump, even with the new infrastructure. There is corroding poverty and high unemployment. However, certain slip-ups were inevitable given the scale of destruction. Aceh remains a sufficiently well-documented model in post-disaster recovery practices due to the volume of unprecedented multi-donor funding that was pumped into a developing nation, and the urgency that came with it.But Aceh’s current situation cannot be attributed solely to shortcomings in post-disaster recovery 15 years ago. Its plight is due heavily to a plethora of local vectors such as political power dynamics after decades of conflict in a semi-autonomous province, improper resource utilization, and lack of official accountability. As local activist and former World Bank consultant Muslahuddin Daud likes to put it, “Aceh is ready to fight, but not to grow.” But what merits special thought for better positive outcomes, according to him, is the need for sufficient investment of time for aid; one that divides funding into phases for emergency response, and then reconstruction and long-term recovery efforts. This is a lesson that has been picked up by the city of Tacloban, at least in theory: according to the central planning document, goals were divided into early recovery projects (shelter, livelihood, infrastructure restoration) to be completed within three years, and longer-term developmental projects to be implemented between three and nine years after Haiyan.The world has moved on to other calamities since Aceh, but the province still harbors lessons for the future behind its veil of freshly paved roads and new buildings. Ask the people living around the fishing boat resting on the first floor of a house inland in Banda Aceh. The traces of struggle amid the resilience are not hard to find.Banner: Khairullah, a fisherman, leans against an abandoned boat donated by Japan on Lamreh beach in Aceh.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Community Development, Disasters, Environment, Featured, Fishing, Foreign Aid, Governance, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Peoples, Oceans last_img read more

Food is biggest stumbling block on zero-waste nature tour

first_imgA week-long zero-waste trip led by Natural Habitat Adventures through Yellowstone National Park diverted 50.9 pounds of waste — 99% of all the on-trip waste.More than 100 million pounds of garbage is generated in the U.S. national parks every year; in 2018, Yellowstone sent 48% of its waste to a landfill.Food waste accounted for more than half of the trip’s collected waste, a particular problem in the travel industry.The tour company is now creating a best practices document to share with other tour operators so they can cut unnecessary waste from their operations as well. While guests on a recent tour through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA ate dinner in the lodge, an unexpected guest joined the group: a five-gallon green compost bucket where the travelers put food scraps at the end of the meal. It may not be the most appealing addition to the bustling dining atmosphere filled with people, but on this July 2019 journey, every ounce mattered.Ecotourism produces millions of pounds of waste each year, and specifically in natural places. With an aim to reduce food waste on its trips, the tour company Natural Habitat Adventures (Nat Hab), ran the world’s first zero-waste adventure, a week-long trip with 12 travelers in Yellowstone this past July, with the goal of diverting all waste from the moment of booking through the airport transfer on the final day.Scraping leftover meal scraps into the green compost bucket. Copyright: Corbin Hawkins / Natural Habitat Adventures.The company has already achieved carbon neutrality in 2007 and eliminated all plastic bottles from its worldwide operations in 2011.Like its other environmental initiatives, the company’s goal was not to develop a zero-waste trip blueprint for similar trips, but to demonstrate what was possible in order to encourage other travel companies to take action. “We know that, in order to push the envelope, we’ve got to come up with big ideas no one else is doing to start conversations,” said Court Whelan, director of sustainability and conservation travel for Nat Hab.According to an April 2019 article published in Applied Environmental Education & Communication, the National Park Service is overwhelmed by more than 100 million pounds of garbage generated by more than 270 million visitors annually. In 2015, the NPS partnered with Subaru to begin the Zero Landfill Initiative to recycle, reuse, or compost garbage instead of burying it. In partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, Subaru launched test waste-reduction and zero-landfill practices in Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Denali National Parks.Though Yellowstone is not one of the test grounds for this initiative, Nat Hab’s decision to run this experimental trip in that park was a strategic one. Yellowstone National Park and its concession partners are striving to divert 75% of the solid waste produced in the park from landfills. The park has a recycling program that accepts glass, plastic, paper, aluminum, steel, cardboard, electronic items, batteries, and other automotive and commercial items, which helped the tour achieve its zero-waste goal.“Going into the trip, one of the things we expected to be a major pain point was composting leftover food after meals. It’s awkward, it can be smelly if it’s been sitting in a bucket in a van for a couple days, but Yellowstone National Park has an extraordinary recycling and composting facility in West Yellowstone,” Whelan said. This facility, which opened in July 2003 was diverting up to 60% of waste generated when it ran at full capacity (the wet mill at the facility is currently broken). In 2017, it increased its compost generation, and the compostable collection season was extended for hotels, restaurants, and general stores. In 2018, 34% of the park’s waste was recycled, 18% was composted, and 48% went to the landfill.The tour was able to make use of the Park’s extensive composting receptacles. “I was really inspired to see pretty much every picnic stop and a lot of the viewpoints have composting and recycling,” Whelan said. “I would say, progressively, it’s equal to, if not more so, than any other natural area or national park that I’ve seen. They certainly have room for growth, but at the same time, they really are doing a lot of stuff right.”Bison roam Yellowstone’s grasslands year-round. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.Despite Yellowstone’s commitment and facilities to minimize waste in the park, Nat Hab was mindful not to rely on outside forces too much; a closed recycling facility or U.S. government shutdown could easily derail the trip’s mission. “In the travel industry, you have a lot of partners, a lot of other operators that help at certain points, but we knew our best chance of doing this was having basically 100% control every step of the way,” Whelan said.To do this, the Boulder, Colorado-based company opted for a fully managed overland trip using two vans, two expedition leaders, and a destination close to its home base — essentially building in a safety net and a high chance of success to learn from for future endeavors. “Worst case scenario, if we couldn’t find places to recycle plastic no. 6 yogurt containers or whatever, we knew, at the end of the season, we could bring that back with our vans and still fulfill the mission,” he said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have to do that.”In the 18 months leading up to the trip, Nat Hab needed to both plan the trip and market and sell it to the right travelers. On the planning side, specifically, the company took a number of scouting trips, created mock itineraries that included logistical stopping points for offloading recycling and composting, involved experts from external organizations like World Wildlife Fund to advise on waste management issues, and contacted all purveyors and service providers the tour encountered along the way. Any touchpoint that involved an outside third party, such as restaurants and hotels, required special attention.Snack time with reusable containers and dishes. The company used disposal facilities in the park but also strictly controlled the movement of food on its zero-waste tour. Copyright: Court Whelan / Natural Habitat AdventuresAt accommodations, Nat Hab asked staff to remove all single-use toiletries, coffee service stations, and even trash bins from the rooms to discourage waste creation, something Whelan said, in hindsight, probably wasn’t necessary. Though the company worked with the idea of “out of sight, out of mind,” the travelers were committed to the mission and the extra time and effort wasn’t necessary. He said the time would have been better spent on education, reminding guests not to use toiletries or unnecessary single-use items.In restaurants, expedition leaders encouraged travelers to share meals or ask for smaller portion sizes, even if it felt a bit uncomfortable, and wait staff and chefs were happy to help. “At the end of the day, one of the brightest takeaways was that, frankly, we didn’t expect there to be big open arms for doing all of this stuff, but the welcome reception was amazing,” Whelan said. Dining staff were eager to meet the zero-waste travelers, shared their own environmental ambitions with the group, and welcomed Nat Hab’s compost bucket, where the travelers cleaned their plates after eating so the food waste could be weighed and disposed of properly.Weighing food waste in the compost bucket. Copyright: Corbin Hawkins / Natural Habitat AdventuresOf all the waste generated on the trip, meal times proved to be among the most complicated and problematic, in part because travel forces people to eat in restaurants for nearly every meal where large portion sizes are served. Conversely, at home, people can make their own meals, adjust their portion sizes, and save leftovers.Nat Hab used what it calls a sustainability facilitator on its trip to serve as an extra set of hands to run recyclables, prep on-site staff for the tour group, and manage the compost bucket. Though this staff member helped the zero-waste trip run smoothly, successfully, and sustainably, Whelan noted that adding another more staff could be a limiting factor for other companies and tour styles.By the trip’s conclusion, the group had recycled, reused, refused, Terracycled, and composted 50.9 pounds of waste — 99% of all waste produced on the trip. Of this, recyclables made up 20.4 pounds and food waste accounted for 27.8 pounds. The group was able to fit all remaining waste into a single small container. This didn’t include personal hygiene items or waste that posed safety risks, was legally required to be sent to a landfill, or resulted from guest actions outside of Nat Hab’s control, such as items of a personal nature. In comparison, the average American is thought to create 4.4 pounds of trash per day.In launching its zero-waste trip, Nat Hab attempted to achieve the practically impossible, yet Whelan emphasized the purpose of the trip was not for other companies — or even Nat Hab — to replicate its efforts specifically. “We’re doing this to set an example, to set a bar, to shout from the mountaintops. We’re not doing it to save 200 pounds of garbage on one trip once in the history of life on earth. We’re doing it because we want to instigate others. We want to influence others to think and do differently,” he said.After a week of refusing, reusing, recycling, and composting, the tour presents its remaining waste in a single small container. Copyright: Court Whelan / Natural Habitat Adventures.The company is currently developing a best practices document based on this experience to distribute throughout the travel and tourism industry that companies can use in their own tour operations.“We set ourselves to a very high standard because it had to be perfection,” Whelan said, “but I think the future of all this is not to get to perfection but rather get to that 50%, get to that 70% across many, many, many, many departures. It’s that last little 5% of perfection that takes 95% of the work.”In fact, instead of planning another zero-waste trip specifically, Nat Hab is now considering the impact of implementing many of these best practices across most of its tour offerings, in essence compounding the positive environmental impact across hundreds of tours and thousands of travelers versus striving for perfection on just a couple trips with only a few dozen travelers.Whelan acknowledged that Nat Hab has more staff and financial resources than a lot of other companies in the travel and tourism industry, but taking advantage of those resources allows the company to serve as a model. “We used this one trip as an experiment, as a teaching tool for ourselves just as much as others,” Whelan said. “This one trip is a symbol that we executed flawlessly, but the big thing is to spread that influence.” Article published by Sue Palminteri Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Ecotourism, Food Waste, Green, Protected Areas, Tourism, Travel, Waste last_img read more

Biodiversity ‘not just an environmental issue’: Q&A with IPBES ex-chair Robert Watson

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by John Cannon Agriculture, Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Climate Change, Conservation, Conservation Finance, Coral Reefs, Deforestation, Ecosystem Finance, Ecosystem Services, Ecosystem Services Payments, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Finance, Forest People, Forestry, Forests, Illegal Logging, Interviews, Logging, Oceans, Payments For Ecosystem Services, Plants, Rainforests, Saving Rainforests, Threats To Rainforests, Timber, Tropical Forests, United Nations, Water, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, World Bank center_img The World Bank and IMF meetings from Oct. 14-20 will include discussions on protecting biodiversity and the importance of investing in nature.A recent U.N. report found that more than 1 million species of plants and animals face extinction.In a conversation with Mongabay, Robert Watson, who chaired the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that produced the report, discusses the economic value of biodiversity. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual meetings this week, Oct. 14-20, in Washington, D.C. Amid the discussions around jobs, poverty reduction and value chains, one of the talks will center on a seemingly unusual topic for the bankers, economists and finance ministers in attendance: biodiversity.Myriad species of plants, animals and other forms of life support valuable services on which people and economies rely, ranging from medicines and food to clean air and water. But according to a recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, the threat of extinction looms for as many as 1 million species of plants and animals.That makes now the time to invest in protecting this “natural capital,” says Robert Watson, an environmental scientist who until recently helmed the IPBES. Not only will stemming the loss of global biodiversity benefit the world’s poor who depend on these services for daily survival — a significant ethical issue, to be sure, Watson pointed out. But bolstering protections for the wide range of life on Earth is also critical to the global economy, as well as its ability to ride out the future shocks that a changing world may bring.“Protecting biodiversity is more than an environmental issue,” he said. “It is a development and economic issue.”Mongabay spoke with Watson ahead of his Oct. 17 talk at the World Bank-IMF meetings.Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Image by Diego Noguera/IISD.Mongabay: Your presence this week seems to signify that there’s a shift, that bankers and finance ministers are paying attention to the global biodiversity crisis. Would you agree with that?Robert Watson: Yes, without any question. I was in New York a couple of weeks ago at the [United Nations climate meeting]. During that week, the World Economic Forum got together what they call [the Nature Champions], and they committed to writing a really good report about both financing and evolution of the economic system to make sure that we can conserve, protect, [and restore] biodiversity. So there seems to be a very strong interest in both the finance sector and the business community at large.A Galapagos tortoise. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Why do you think that is, and why now?While climate change has been the big environmental issue that everyone’s looked at, over the last few years, the finance sector, the business community, as well as governments, of course, have an ever-increasing interest in biodiversity. And I think the [IPBES] global assessment, which we produced in May, got incredible coverage all around the world. There are many businesses that depend on biodiversity, depend on nature. Obviously, the agricultural sector, that’s a no-brainer. But also, power plants [and] aluminum smelting plants require water. Many, many businesses rely on nature.Secondly, many businesses have a footprint on nature. I think that as the world is recognizing we need to be more sustainable, many businesses realize that they need to limit and minimize their footprint. That then brings, of course, the finance sector, who should be asking themselves, when they make a loan, will a change in climate or a loss of biodiversity, undermine the loan? And secondly, effectively, I think there is now a real demand for sustainability. And therefore, there’s an incentive to find sustainable projects in biodiversity, sustainable fisheries, sustainable agriculture, sustainable forests, et cetera. At the end of the day, it makes good business sense.A yellow anemone in Indonesia. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.The big headline from the IPBES report was the million species facing extinction. Those are stark terms. But one thing that was less emphasized in the media was the decrease in the diversity of crops and livestock species that we rely on. How dependent are we on biodiversity?One of the things that’s happened is agriculturalists across the world are more and more focused on a small number of genetic species with high yields. Yet, in the long term, especially with things such as climate change, we need to be absolutely sure that we have a wide range of genetic variability of different plants and animals in case they have to adapt to change in environmental conditions. Luckily, many of the newspaper stories also did cover that we are really transforming our forests, our mangrove swamps, our grasslands, et cetera. And I think the key issue is that biodiversity is not just an environmental issue. It’s fundamentally an economic issue. It’s got both market and non-market economic value. There are many of these ecosystem services like controlling the climate, controlling pollution, controlling floods [and] purifying water which don’t have a direct value in the marketplace, but have huge non-market value as well as a lot of social value.If we lose biodiversity, and of course, if we change the climate, they both affect food security, water security [and] human health. Unfortunately, when you lose biodiversity, it tends to be poor people in poor countries who depend on biodiversity. There are examples around the world where a lack of resources or a loss of natural resources has led to tension, conflict [and] migration. It’s obviously an ethical issue that, one, we shouldn’t destroy biodiversity. Two, it’s ethical because typically, it’s the rich people in the world who have caused the problem. Poor people suffer, and it’s future generations that will suffer even more.I think governments — I’ve heard many ministers say this — realize now that climate change and biodiversity are interrelated issues. And they’re far more than environmental issues. I think the recognition they have economic implications, development [and security] implications, has raised it up. From a private sector standpoint, more and more of the public, at least middle class who can afford it, are demanding more sustainable goods. And therefore there is a market for those that can afford it for more sustainably produced goods. So it makes sense for both a government perspective and a private sector perspective.A leaf-mimicking treehopper in Madagascar. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Can you give us a sense of what your key messages of your talk will be?I’m going to point out that biodiversity is under threat due to human activity. The first [driver] is land use change. The second one is exploitation. In the oceans, it’s overexploitation of fisheries. And the third one at the moment is climate, followed by pollution and invasive alien species. But I will also say climate change is likely to be as or more important than the other drivers in the coming decades. Hence, we’ve got look at both of these things together basically.So I’ll talk about, what are the drivers for change? I point out that, by not dealing with that biodiversity loss, we will be undermining many of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals between climate change and biodiversity. They threaten food security [and] water security. There are gender issues. There are security issues. If you want to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we do need to address both climate change and the loss of biodiversity.I’ll point out then that to deal with biodiversity, we need more inclusive governance structures. We need governments to work with the private sector, work with the NGO civil society. We need multi-sector planning. One can’t just think of an agricultural policy. One has to say, if I’m going to do something on agriculture, what are the effects on biodiversity? Or what are the effects on water? If you’ve got an energy policy or technology, what are the implications for biodiversity? We can’t do one sector at a time. And we need to evolve the economic system. We need to get rid of the perverse energy, transportation and agricultural subsidies [amounting to] over a trillion dollars a year. We need to eliminate those because most of them adversely affect biodiversity and stimulate climate change.Secondly, we need to bring the value of nature into national accounts. Three, we should embrace things like the circular economy. And we need to provide short-term incentives for sustainable production.It’s not saying we should be getting rid of capitalism, definitely not. It’s not saying we should get rid of using GDP as a measure of economic growth. But we need to complement GDP. While it’s a measure of economic growth, it is not a measure of sustainable economic growth. Obviously the time for action is not only now. It was 20, 30 years ago, but we need to act basicallyBaobabs at sunset in Madagascar. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.I understand you’re part of the Dasgupta Review in the U.K.Yeah, [Partha Dasgupta] was asked by the chancellor of the exchequer to do a review to evaluate the value of biodiversity. What he will try and show is that for an individual country, you should be looking at what are your ecosystems, your biomes, and what do they contribute in natural capital? What do they contribute to the market? What do they contribute in non-market value?Some social scientists don’t like this. They say that commoditizes nature. I personally disagree with that. I think it’s very important to show these ecosystems do have economic value, even if it’s not all in the marketplace, because that allows the environment minister to talk to the agricultural minister, the energy minister, the treasury minister. Protecting biodiversity is more than an environmental issue. It is a development and economic issue.The temperate Hoh rainforest in the U.S. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.It seems like it’s difficult to do this at a global scale. Would you say that it would be advisable for countries like the U.S. or other major players on the world economic stage to do these assessments for themselves?I would argue that, to the degree it can be done, all countries should try as much as possible. I heard quite often as we did the [IPBES] global assessment that Africa recognizes that one of the most important things they’ve got for potential economic growth is their natural capital. They’ve got a wealth of forest, wetlands, et cetera.The question is, how could you — I’ll use the IPBES term — “sustainably” use them? How could you use or exploit these systems without destroying them? In other words, how do you sustainably use a forest or a wetland or coral reef or mangrove system? So I will argue that it’s probably as or more important for poorer countries to do this evaluation because natural capital could be a larger part of their economy than a rich country like the U.S. So I don’t think it’s just an issue of rich countries doing these sort of evaluations. The challenge, however, is fairly simple. Do we have the data to do good analyses? Countries like the U.K., many in Europe [and] the U.S. have probably a much better understanding of their ecosystems, than a number of developing countries.Orbicular batfish in Komodo, Indonesia. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.We’re I think less than a year away from the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in China next year. Do you expect the value biodiversity to be a larger topic there?I would hope it would be part of the conversation. I think the meeting in China next year is very, very important. Governments met in Japan in 2010 and came up with a 20 Aichi Targets, [which are] a wide range of targets and goals to protect biodiversity [and] to raise awareness of biodiversity. One of them talks about incorporating natural capital into international accounts. To be quite honest, as we said in IPBES global assessment, we’ve made some progress on some of them, but almost none of the targets will be met, unfortunately.In my opinion, some of those are really good targets, and they could expand out for later 2025, 2035. I won’t be part of that dialogue, but I would hope that governments would talk about the economic values, the social values, the development values of why we do need to protect biodiversity, why we need to restore some of the degraded land. I would hope at that meeting, and at the Convention on Climate Change only a month later, they will also talk about how they need to think about climate change and biodiversity together, because these two issues are almost inseparable. Climate change affects biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity affects climate change.Also, when one tries to think about solutions of how to mitigate climate change, people talk about nature-based solutions, such as using bioenergy, that bioenergy could potentially be good, but it could also under certain circumstances actually lead to a loss of biodiversity. And it can also threaten food security. So one has to look at the synergies and trade-offs of some of these response options for climate change and biodiversity. So, I would hope both of the big conventions would recognize the interrelationship between the two issues and that they need to think about them together.Banner image of a blueberry grasshawk in Indonesia by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.John Cannon is a staff writer at Mongabay. Find him on Twitter: @johnccannonEditor’s note: This interview was edited for clarity and length.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Grassroots campaign saves major wetland in Montenegro

first_imgCampaigners have saved the Ulcinj Salina in Montenegro from development after an 18-year campaign.They lobbied European Union ministers, mindful of fact that Montenegro’s leadership was looking to join the EU, but its poor environmental record was holding it back.They also used the influence of European diplomats to augment pressure on local officials and of the internet to broadcast their cause worldwide. They won local support with their plans for sustainable tourism. MONTENEGRO — “You see, they are coming, the visitors are coming,” says Jovana Janjušević as we walk along one of the trails that zig-zag across Ulcinj Salina, a diverse saltwater wetland in southern Montenegro.  “Now when we see people walking around, it is amazing… we fought for almost 18 years.”Covering 15 square kilometers (6 square miles), the salina is part of the Bojana-Buna estuary and one of the most important wetland areas in the Balkans. Thousands of birds rest here each year in the spring and autumn. Its significance to migratory birds is often compared to that of Heathrow Airport for humans, with nine times more birds passing through the salina than passengers through one of the world’s busiest airports.The Ulcinj Salina showing remnants of its old salt works as natural vegetation take over. Image by Mark Hillsdon for Mongabay.For nearly two decades, a partnership including EuroNatur, the Martin Schneider Jacoby Association (MSJA) and the Center for Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP) has been working to protect the lagoon from development, with a campaign that has mixed traditional lobbying with the power of the internet and the world of diplomatic relations.The salina is the site of the old Bajo Sekulic salt works, which opened in 1926 and at its height employed over 450 local people, producing a high-quality salt billed as ‘a marriage of the sun and the sea.’Over the years there have been various attempts to protect the salina, which is also home to over 50 different species of nesting birds, including huge flocks of greater flamingo, rare Dalmatian pelicans, and diminutive black-winged stilts.Hunting was banned by the local worker’s council as early as 1984, when Montenegro was still part of the former Yugoslavia, and five years later the site was recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).Flamingos specialize on salt water habitats. Image by Mark Hillsdon for Mongabay.In September 2019, the salina was also designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, putting additional pressure on the government to take the necessary steps to maintain and enhance the ecological character of the saltpans.Until 2005, the site was managed for salt production, with the careful maintenance of its channels and saline pools proving perfect for birdlife. But the situation changed dramatically in 2005 when the salina was privatized, with 75 percent of shares in the salt works bought for €800,000 ($890,000) by an investment company called Eurofond, in what EuroNatur has described as an ‘opaque process.’The unanswered question, explains Janjušević, executive director at CZIP, is whether the sale involved just the right to extract salt, or all the land as well. Eurofond claim the latter but according to the local land registry, the Montenegrin state is still the registered owner.In 2012, the salt company declared bankruptcy and halted production, allowing the site to rapidly deteriorate, with criminals destroying the pumps which were crucial to circulating water around the site and preserving the unique habitat.  As dams collapsed, fresh water flooded in, says Janjušević, deterring the migrant birds that thrive on the salt water.An old canal and roadway from the salt works still provides structure used by waterbirds. Image by Mark Hillsdon for Mongabay.Eurofund also began lobbying hard for the designation of the salina to be changed from an industrial zone to land suitable for the construction of a tourist resort, putting forward plans for a marina, golf course and luxury hotel.The Save Salina Campaign launched a petition to oppose this change of use but, said Janjušević, only 3,000 local people signed it because many of them were afraid to put their name to the text. To prove citizenship, Montenegrins also have to give their ID number, she explained, and many people were unsure how this information would be used.The petition did initially meet with some success, and parliament recognized the salina as a ‘potential protected area,’ but the success was short-lived, and the decision was overturned by the courts on appeal in 2015. However, the partners were allowed to tentatively start promoting the site, with the creation of a small souvenir shop, interpretation boards and even bike hire. But access was eventually denied, as the factory’s bankruptcy proceedings were completed.The old factory and workshops at the entrance to the salina now lie derelict as gradually the whole site was dismantled, with everything of any value stripped out, including the pumps that CZIP installed to help increase the flow of water around the salt pans.But the campaigners had a secret weapon; they had arranged a special VIP visit to the site, which was attended by the ambassadors from the German, French and Polish embassies. All of a sudden, the campaign had friends in high places and the fate of the salina could no longer be ignored.Jovana Janjušević, executive director at the Center for Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP). Image by Mark Hillsdon for Mongabay.“When you have people saying something is important but they are just a bunch of ornithologists, it can be ignored,” said Janjušević. “But when you have an ambassador saying it, then it’s fact, no one questions it.”Diplomats are taught not to meddle, she added, but they can ask questions and that can ‘make the government sweat.’A key figure proved to be the former German ambassador, Gudrun Steinbacker. “In the course of our interventions and through our own investigations and those of relevant NGOs… we got to know more about the corruption around the privatization of the salina and made it public,” said Steinbacker. It was, she added: “a very questionable privatization.”“Montenegro is in the course of [European Union] accession and has to implement EU standards, especially in the field of environment and nature conservation,” Steinbacker said. “There is a huge gap between documents and reality on the ground. We ambassadors from EU countries have a right to take note of these gaps and appeal to the government to improve the standards.”Without Steinbacker’s support, said Michael Bader, who rents tourist accommodation in Ulcinj: “we wouldn’t be where we are today… It pushed everything to a higher, international level.”While the campaign had already been lobbying key EU ministers, the diplomatic pressure significantly raised the profile of the salina, to the extent that it became central to Montenegro’s efforts to join the EU. It is now included in the government’s annual progress reports to the EU, and protection of the salina has been set as benchmark for future EU accession. In 2017, an EU study said that the salina should be revitalized, with the Montenegrin government agreeing that salt production should be re-established.Campaigners also launched a second petition to afford the site protected status, this time harnessing the power of the internet and the WeMove platform to gain over 100,000 signatures in just two weeks. The petition resonated with people around the world, said Janjušević, and put further pressure on the Government until in June this year the site finally received protected area status as a Nature Park.The Ulcinj Salina, with remaining salt works infrastructure, supports a wide variety of migratory waterbirds. Covering 15 square kilometers (6 square miles), it’s part of the Bojana-Buna estuary and one of the most important wetland areas in the Balkans. Thousands of birds rest here each year in the spring and autumn. Image by Mark Hillsdon for Mongabay.According to Montenegrin law, explained Janjušević, the power to designate sites below national park status lies with the local authority, although in this case the national government was also involved “because the pressure from the EU went straight to them, not to the local municipality.”“Perseverance finally pays off,” said EuroNatur CEO Gabriel Schwaderer. “The town council’s decision offers the opportunity to really preserve and revitalise the salina. It’s been a long struggle.”“We will closely track the further developments,” he added. “The Nature Park logo must not become a fig leaf for the government.”The key elements of the protection are that salt production is to be re-introduced and activities such as cycling and birdwatching will be encouraged, but no new buildings are to be constructed.“This victory for nature is a unique example of people struggling for birds,” Janjušević said. “Against all pushback, against spatial planning, investors’ desires, industry and bare figures.”She said the monitoring and bird surveys local birdwatchers carry out supported their efforts.  “We have based everything on science, not just our feelings… We use scientific methods that are proven – then you have something in your hands that you can fight the decision makers with.”The campaign also tapped into local affection for the site and was able to show local people that the proposed luxury tourist development would not only destroy the salina but also provide poorly paid, often temporary jobs. Instead, they are now developing a sustainable tourism plan that promotes a more diverse range of stable jobs based around nature tourism, as well the health benefits and spa potential of the salina’s mud and salt.“I think tourism is going in another direction, and people are looking to have less impact on nature,” Bader said. “Tourists are already coming, even without big marketing, they are coming. If you push this a little bit then this area will be full of visitors, and that’s the sustainable tourism that Ulcinj needs.”The salina now has Nature Park status, achieved after years of campaigns and with the help of several European diplomats. Image by Mark Hillson for Mongabay.But winning Nature Park status is far from the end of the story, and the campaign is set to continue applying pressure and raising awareness until this unique habitat is brought back to full health.Conserving the biodiversity of the salina requires the same level of water management as salt production, said Janjušević, and an estimated €10 million ($11,150,000) is needed to restore it.But despite the fact the second petition called on the Government to identify the true owners of the site, prime minister Duško Marković has yet to respond. “The next step must be to find out who is the real owners,” Bader said. “If you don’t know who is the owner, you will not get an investor.” Article published by Sue Palminteri Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Agriculture, Biodiversity, Birds, Conservation Solutions, Freshwater Ecosystems, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Migration, Protected Areas, Wetlands, Wildlife FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Tradition and taboo keep Guinea-Bissau’s forests standing

first_imgGuinea-Bissau is home to countless sacred forests, where cutting down a tree is strictly prohibited by the community.Efforts are also underway to develop community forests in communities that don’t recognize the concept of sacred forests, and imbue them with a similar understanding and reverence for the environment.Despite these efforts, the country experienced a spate of illegal logging following a coup in 2012, prompting a logging ban to be imposed in 2015.With the ban expiring in March 2020 and elections taking place this November, it’s unclear whether or how the government’s stance on the issue will change. COBIANA, Guinea Bissau – He remembers the first time he heard the voice of Mama Djombo.Albino Moreira Mendes was sleeping in his bed in Cobiana, a small town in rural northern Guinea-Bissau, when the messages, which he can only describe as coded noises, came to him. They told him how to perform a ceremony in Cobiana’s sacred forest, and that it was his turn take charge of the forest, to become what is known as the baloberu.“Without the forest, a man like me … I am nothing,” says Mendes, who since that night 10 years ago has been the interlocutor between Mama Djombo, the spirit or iran of the sacred forest in Cobiana, and anyone who wishes to speak to it.Most societies value something so strongly that the icon or resource becomes intertwined with the very definition of their community. For the residents of Cobiana, the trees — and more specifically their sacred forest — are their roots. Even a hypothetical offer of a million dollars to buy the trees in their sacred forest is met with simultaneous gasps of terror and incredulous laughter. To destroy the forest is to destroy them. “It is our identity,” Mendes says.There is bright green vegetation on both sides of the winding, single lane of dirt road that leads to the town of Cobiana (the forest and village share the same name). The countryside’s natural colors mirror the colors of its national flag: red earth, neon-green vegetation, and a bright yellow, unforgiving sun. The only respite from the heat is either when the clouds break for rain, or under the canopy of the trees.Along one side of the road are occasional areas of brush that have been cleared for future planting, but the other side of the road is overgrown and untouched.On that side of the road lies the sacred forest whose rules are both clear-cut and shrouded in secrecy. What happens in this forest? Coming-of-age rituals for men, prayers for a new marriage, or asking Mama Djombo for various blessings (a baby, a new job). How are these rituals conducted? This information is secret. The more it is shared, the less sacred it becomes. Who can go into the forest? Men who have been initiated. No women, certainly no outsiders.Mendes insists if you cut down a tree in the sacred forest, you will die.Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, Mendes says.Killing a tree is a crime punishable by death. It’s not a crime punished through the courts, but the iran will decide how and when.For the residents of Cobiana, the forest does not have a monetary value. “We prefer to die in poverty than to take money from someone to sell a portion of this sacred land,” Mendes says. “We cannot do it. This is something we learned from our ancestors, and even the children who come, they know they cannot sell this land.”Cobiana also holds historical significance in Guinea-Bissau. During the country’s 11-year independence war against the Portuguese, soldiers fighting for independence would come to Cobiana and ask Mendes’s father, who was the baloberu at the time, to take them into the sacred forest to ask for Mama Djombo’s protection. Mama Djombo was regarded as the protector of the independence fighters. Mendes remembers these days, and he says sometimes swarms of bees would attack Portuguese outposts, thanks to Mama Djombo. “Even the colonialists knew that and didn’t come this way,” he says.Sacred forests like Cobiana are scattered throughout Guinea-Bissau, particularly in the northwest region and across the 88 islands of the Bijagos archipelago.Sacred forests like Cobiana were among the few areas untouched during a surge in illegal logging that followed a 2012 coup. Image by Ricci Shryock for Mongabay.No one has surveyed the country to determine exactly how many there are, or the total area they cover, but Miguel de Barros, an activist and sociologist in Guinea-Bissau, says there are hundreds of sacred forests. Some are designated for women only, some are for men. Each one has specific characteristics that depend on the group protecting it, but they all share one hard and fast rule: absolutely no one may cut down a tree in a sacred forest.De Barros says sacred forests are a powerful force for conservation because they are “a crucial identity element of socialization, knowledge production, and economics … an element that reinforces the identity of the place and also the governing power of spaces and resources.”Following a coup in 2012, central government authority was weakened and illegal loggers, including some military officials, seized the opportunity to pillage the country’s forests. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO, “timber exports from Guinea-Bissau to China, the world’s largest importer of illegal rosewood, surged from 61 tons in 2007 to 98,000 tons in 2014 — an equivalent of 255,000 trees exported in just one year.”During that time, sacred forests remained untouched.In 2015, as a reaction to the pillaging, a moratorium on logging was put in place. But the crisis showed how Guinea-Bissau’s government has often failed to protect the country’s forests.Since gaining independence in 1974, after 11 years of war against the Portuguese colonizers, Guinea Bissau’s central government has struggled for stability.There have been at least a dozen successful or attempted coup d’états, and amid this, effective environmental protection for the forests of this small but biodiverse country has suffered. Conservationists and park officials say the cultural and spiritual power of sacred forests in some regions of the country has been a unique key to preserving certain areas, and conservation efforts have often been built around them.It is no accident that Cobiana sits inside the 88,615-hectare (218,972-acre) Cacheu River Mangroves National Park. The Guinea-Bissau authorities have often included sacred spaces when drawing boundaries of national protected areas, because they know the population within these areas already conserve the forests in their own way, as they have for generations.“That helps us,” says Luis Mendes, a park agent at Cacheu. “Everyone in the community respects that, and this helps us do our work. Each village has its forest reserve, and its tradition. It’s these traditions that allow us to preserve the forest.”He added that most of the villages within the park have not only a sacred forest, but also a community forest reserve where they harvest wild fruit and practice responsible, regulated slash-and-burn agriculture.Mendes and other officials at the country’s park services and in the Department of Forests and Water are working against a ticking clock to protect Guinea-Bissau’s forests: the 2015 moratorium that banned logging in the country is set to expire in March 2020, and with national elections on the horizon this November, they are unsure what logging laws will look like in the months to come.“Even with the moratorium there are still threats to the forest,” says Danilson Coreira, an official at the Department of Forests and Water. “It’s certain those will increase if the moratorium expires.”After the current government under President José Mário Vaz took power in 2014, it put in place the moratorium on all logging until March 2020. Nelvina Barreto, who served as minister of agriculture and forests until an abrupt government overhaul in late October, said she would have liked to extend the ban beyond the 2020 deadline, for at least another three years so that enhanced community defense mechanisms could be put in place, such as a working hotline that residents can call to alert authorities to logging, as well as better-trained forest rangers.“There are a lot of concerns about this moratorium, that’s why we have to analyze it very well,” Barreto said. “The decision was taken in 2015 during a crisis and emergency to fight the environmental crimes that were taking place. So now we are not under this pressure, and we need to consider all the economic and social aspects. There are national economic needs, and wood is not only used for exportation. There are a lot of internal uses, and with this moratorium, at the internal level, we have many problems furnishing wood for the internal market.“It’s this precarious equilibrium we have to find, and we are looking for,” she added. “We need to know what areas we need to continue prohibiting, because there are forests in certain areas that are more affected than others.”With the central government once again in flux in the country, it’s unclear who will be making and enforcing the logging laws in the near future.One of Vaz’s leading opponents in the November presidential elections is Domingoes Simões Pereira, known as DSP. Pereira was prime minister when the moratorium was imposed, and says he supports extending the ban if elected.Barreto was part of the government formed under a coalition including Pereira’s party, and could very well return to helm of the agriculture and forestry ministry if DSP wins the November polls.last_img read more