Saturday, June 23, 2012

Petition Panama Leaders to Protect Panama Bay

Dears Reads - Please use the following letter as an example. Addresses given at end.

Attn. Ricardo Martinelli, Presidente de la República de Panamá.

Petition Letter to Panamanian Authorities

We the undersigned persons are aware that the Panamanian Supreme Court eliminated the classification for the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Wetland Site in May 2012. The majority of this protected area entered the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance in 2003. Most of the site is composed of 85,000 ha of mangrove forest and other wetland areas that stretch more than 100 km from Panama City east to the border of Darién Province on Panama´s Pacific coast. This protected area contains one of Panama´s largest contiguous mangrove forests. The wetlands of Panama Bay are one of the most important shorebird migration stopover sites in the Western Hemisphere. Between 1 and 2 million shorebirds, comprising more than 30 species converge there each fall during their annual migration. We consider that this action regarding the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Wetland Site is an unprecedented attack on Panama´s National System of Protected Areas and Western Hemisphere mangroves. We are also aware the Panamanian officials have stated their intentions to promote parts of the area for coastal tourism and real estate development. These land uses are inappropriate for a coastal mangrove ecosystem. 

The coastal wetlands of Panama Bay provide numerous ecosystem services to Panama and its peoples that need to be protected and maintained. They protect the shoreline against coastal erosion and storm events and are also important in mitigating coastal flooding. Mangrove forests also are sinks for carbon and help slow increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. With global climate change and sea level rise, the importance of these mangroves will only increase for Panama in the coming years. Panama Bay mangroves are nursery areas for various species of shrimp that constitute an important economic resource in the Gulf of Panama and generate significant export earnings for Panama

Mangroves are important centers for biological diversity, and Panama Bay is recognized as a particularly important site for migratory shorebirds. Additionally, Panama Bay mangroves provide livelihoods for thousands of coastal persons in small coastal communities from Juan Díaz to Chimán. Given the actions of your government and the importance of Panama Bay mangroves, we request that Panamanian authorities: 

1. Act to protect their country´s natural resources and fulfill their responsibilities as the stewards of Panama´s National System of Protected Areas,

2. Respect their Nation´s obligations under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and

3. Reinstitute the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Wetland Site.

1) Ricardo Martinelli, Presidente de la República de Panamá. and

2) Demetrio Papadimitriu, Ministro de la Presidencia and

3) María Fábrega, Vice Ministra de la Presidencia

4) Salo Shamah, Ministro de Turismo

5) Giovanni Lauri Carretti, Administrador General de la Autoridad de los Recursos
Acuáticos de Panamá (ARAP) and

6) Oscar Osorio, Ministro del Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario (MIDA) y
Presidente de la Junta Directiva de la ARAP

For the Mangroves And the Mangrove Communities!

Alfredo Quarto,
Executive Director
Mangrove Action Project

Follow-up: Thai land campaign action

Dear friends,

Many thanks to you all for joining in the campaign letter to the Thai Prime Minister in support of the Thai land reform movements.

We can update you with the very welcome and unexpected news that the Supreme Court decided to drop the charges against two members of the community land reform movement, Mr Rangsan Saensongkhaew and Mr Seubsakun Kijnukorn.  This decision overturns the decision of the Court of Appeal which had upheld the original conviction of inciting others to break the law and sentenced the accused to 4 years in prison.

However, the conviction of Mr Praweis Panpa, from the village of Prabaht, Pasang District, Lamphun province on charges of encroachment, was upheld by the Supreme Court.  His sentence was reduced from 6 years to 1 year in prison.

Their case achieved a high profile and the action you participated in helped to draw additional attention to the issues behind the case.

However as indicated earlier, this court case is just one amongst many in Thailand, and the struggles of the Thai farmers, indigenous peoples, slum dwellers and  fisherfolk trying to assert, recover and reclaim their rights to natural resources continue.

The letter that was delivered to the Prime Minister's office and to the Office for the Institution of Community Title office on 31st (attached) in the end has attracted the support of 135 organisations and individuals and is posted on several websites.  You are encouraged to link to our page (see below) or to post the pdf version of the letter on your website. Photos are available, please contact me for these.

We will let you know if there may be any other urgent appeals to extend support and solidarity to the Thai and other land reform movements.

with best
Petition website

or a shorter form is 

LRAN/Focus on the Global South

Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Open Letter from the Goldman Environmental Prize winners to Governments of the planet

We are the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize. We have been threatened. We have been tortured. We have been captured. We died by industrial poisons in our blood. We have been killed. We are the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize. We are in 81 countries. We are local activists. We are national ambassadors. We are indigenous peoples. We are ministers of the environment. We are women. We are men. We are elderly. We are young. 

For over two decades the Goldman Prize has honored us by the great risks we have taken to protect the environment. Now we ask you to risk. It is your duty to participate in the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro and lead to action in defense of biodiversity. The Earth Summit presents a profound opportunity to strengthen our commitment global protection of the planet, which was recognized 20 years ago in the historic "Summit Rio Earth-1992 ". 

Since then, the peoples of the world have preserved endangered species from extinction, preserved fragile lands and developed alternatives to some of our more destructive practices. Communities have repeatedly won major battles. But civil society is leading conservation efforts with people like us who are putting our lives and wellbeing at risk for   environmental protection. Now we urgently ask that you please take the lead in protecting the planet we share, for the good of future generations, I urge you to participate in the Earth Summit to take a risk, as we have taken to defend the Earth”.