Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mangrove Ecocide in Quintana Roo

These articles and news clips following this article are highly important because they represent the dangers associated with the existing and planned indiscriminate constructions that take place on mangrove rich habitats, in particular, the developments of hotels and golf courses located along the east coastline of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Associated dangers include:
· Methane gas explosions
· Sinking of the soft sediment
· Release of greenhouse gasses
· Loss of biodiversity
· Contamination of water
Increased population density on coasts results in physical, chemical and biological alterations to mangrove environments. The methane released into mangrove habitats is enhanced by human induced factors such as waste from sewage effluent and agricultural runoff. Emissions of CH4 into the atmosphere as a result of domestic waste discharge leads to severe oxygen stress and anaerobic conditions, particularly in freshwater environments. Methanogenic bacteria are present in these mangrove rich anaerobic zones.

These mangroves consist of pneumatophers which diffuse oxygen into these anoxic zones where methane oxidation can occur, which produces methane gas. 50% of the mangrove litter production is converted to soil organic matter in undisturbed mangrove ecosystems. Due to Akumal´s tropical climate, the decomposition of organic matter in summer creates oxygen stress which results in a rapid formation of CH4 in the subsurface in tropical coastal wetlands. These high temperatures lead to increased emissions of CH4 from the subsurface to the atmosphere. For this reason, methane gas stored under high pressure due to human disturbances could potentially be identified as the cause of multiple explosions at The Princess Hotel 3 years ago and again 6 weeks ago and the Zamas Hotel last Monday as methane has been trapped
within the trunks of those once living trees. It is important to note that it is illegal to build on mangrove habitats in the state of Quintana Roo, and is deemed a criminal offense.

Construction on mangrove habitats also drastically alters the level of biodiversity in and around the mangrove ecosystem. Construction on mangrove habitats limits the amount of resources available for species to produce offspring. This has and will have a drastic effect on the future functioning of mangrove ecosystems and the species that rely on them as a refuge, a corridor and a migratory habitat.

Buildings on top of mangrove habitats are a potential health hazard and/or
death to:
· People
· Existing flora and fauna
· Endemic and indigenous species
· Cenotes and freshwater subterranean rivers.

When tidal inundation of polluted waters occurs, the water quality and hydrology of the mangrove and cenote systems become threatened. This affects the organisms that depend on this water to live. This health hazard needs to be identified for the survival of many species and the health of the rivers and mangroves. Please understand how important this information is and feel free to give us any feedback. We also encourage you to share this information with anyone you feel can help in the effort to protect the delicate and unique ecology of Quintana Roo.

If any of these links or attachments do not open please let us know and we will resend them with a different format.

Thank you for reading,

Nancy and the SAVE Staff

Please find the following attachments and links to articles,

· The Blue Carbon Policy Brief:
The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University
http://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/oceans/oceans/marinees/blue-carbon

· Links associated with carbon sequestration and Blue Carbon:
In Cancun, everyone’s talking about Blue Carbon
http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6140
GRIDA reference
http://grida.no/publications/rr/blue-carbon/>
http://grida.no/publications/rr/blue-carbon/
Blue Carbon Portal
http://bluecarbonportal.org/
Open Statement to COP 16 Delegates about Blue Carbon
http://bluecarbonblog.blogspot.com/
Conservation International on Blue Carbon
http://www.conservation.org/Documents/CI_Climate_Solutions_Blue_Carbon.pdf
To Save the Planet, Save the Seas
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/opinion/27lafolley.html?_r=2


· An article about the explosions at the Princess hotel and Zamas
Hotel:
http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=13506458
http://www.noticaribe.com.mx/rivieramaya/2010/12/hundimiento_y_no_explosion_la_causa_de_grieta_en_carretera.html
· An acknowledgment letter from the Princess hotels:
http://www.princess-hotels.com/web/en/docs_BKLD/pdf/ComunicadoEn.pdf

· Articles on methane emission from coastal wetlands:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/u578kde0j67u1pe5/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC414011/pdf/bactrev00056-0156.pdf
http://sfbay.wr.usgs.gov/publications/pdf/iversen_1987_soda3.pdf

Friday, October 29, 2010

Report Doesn't tell the whole story

Note: This blog is a letter written to MAP regarding the report:
TECHNICAL REPORT: IDENTIFICATION OF THREATENED AND RESILIENT MANGROVES IN THE BELIZE BARRIER REEF SYSTEM

EMIL A. CHERRINGTON*, BETZY E. HERNANDEZ, NOEL A. TREJOS, OCTAVIO A. SMITH, ERIC R. ANDERSON, AFRICA I. FLORES, AND BESSY C. GARCIA
Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC)

Note in response to this report: In regards to this report, a 2% loss of mangrove in Belize seems slightly low but is probably in the right ball park. I wonder how some of the places that lost their mangroves long ago where handled in these estimates but I suspect the differences would not be great enough to warrant any objection to the the number in this report.

This estimate, however, does not tell the whole story.

Belize definitely has some advantages in mangrove conservation. They have strong national laws to reduce and prevent their removal. Shrimp farms there also have not used techniques that remove mangrove habitat. Perhaps most importantly, the population density of Belize is quite low and the human footprint along the coast is still somewhat limited. Development, however, is moving ahead rapidly and much of that is concentrated in housing and resort developments along the coast. That situation is rapidly evolving.

Concerns about Belizean mangrove conservation revolve more around the decisions made on a case by case basis as develoment proceeds. Given that 70% of the Belizean coastline is owned by foreign interests with direct interests in development, the fact that only 2% of mangroves have been removed so far is not especially reassuring.

Many developers in Belize still reflexively clear land down to the shoreline, even though this activity often results in immediate loss of portions of their property to erosion. It is also concerning that mangrove removal regulations have not always been enforced and until this recent global recession, development pressure had been increasing at a rapid pace. Developments built on fill on sites at or even below sea level are still routinely approved with devestating effects on the mangrove habitats as well as surrounding seagrass meadows that are dredged. In an era of rising sea levels and increasing storm intensity, this is a worrying trend.

Mangrove conservation efforts in Belize have focused on strengthening enforcement and legislation, raising awareness of the value of mangroves as habitat, pointing out positive examples of development that have embraced the preservation of mangrove habitat, and promoting private reserves and other conservation and restoration measures.

If you have not already done so, please visit, join and provide input to the Belizean Mangrove Conservation Network on Facebook. Just now reaching 400 members, the BMCN focuses on positive, proactive measures to conserve Belizean mangroves, pointing out the value of this critical habitat and highlighting efforts to help it remain an intergral part of both the natural and human-dominated landscapes of coastal Belize. Belize is a place where there have been substantive accomplishments in mangrove conservation. With continued focus on this vital resource, there is reason to believe those accomplishments can carry forward into the future.

Many thanks,
Timothy B. Smith
Brooksmith Consulting
Ecology, Fisheries, Education

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sundarban Tiger Attacks and Killings

Over the past two weeks, MAP has been following the situation regarding tigers in the Sundarbans region of Bangladesh in conflict with villagers there. To encourage discussion and action on this issue, we are pasting copies of the emails we have received, in hopes of spreading further discussion about these important issues. You comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Endangered and Extinct: America Turns Her Back on Biodiversity

The Nations of the world have gathered in London for a UN Convention on Biodiversity and Climate Change.

2010 has been named the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations. An urgent call to action has been issued to all nations of the world to cooperate and collaborate as a global community to protect the biodiversity of Earth. What is biodiversity you ask? According to Dr. Eleanor Sterling, Director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, “Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that sustain it.”

In a keynote address, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Secretary-General of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity expressed concern on the lack of international binding commitments and coordinated action to protect the Earth’s biodiversity and to ameliorate climate change. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate due to habitat change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change. The UN Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 states that there are multiple indications of biodiversity decline of genes, species and ecosystems. Nearly 25% of the world’s plant species are threatened with extinction. Globally, amphibians are great risk of extinction. The populations of vertebrate species fell by 33 % between 1970 and 2006 with severe declines within freshwater ecosystems and in the tropics. Scientists estimate that 15% of mammal species and 11% of bird species are classified as threatened. Coral species are deteriorating with ocean warming and acidification. Natural habitats worldwide are declining in extent and integrity due to fragmentation, overdevelopment and climate change. The UN Environment Programme has issued an astonishing report, which states that: “150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours.” Secretary-General Djoghlaf says “The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years.”

Why should we care? UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon states that the reasons are ecological and economic. He outlines the ecosystem services that protect people and their infrastructure, like coastal wetlands minimizing the impact of storm surges, sadly realized too late when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans or the cutting of the mangrove swamps for unsustainable shrimp farms and beach development and the tragic loss of life and property from tsunamis in South East Asia. Ecosystems protect infrastructure. New York City enjoys cheap and clean tap water because the city chose to protect the Catskills watershed, saving several billion dollars in the process. According to the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, “Ecosystems provide services such as pollination, seed dispersal, climate regulation, water purification, nutrient cycling, and control of agricultural pests.”

According to the Secretary, “A UN-backed study estimates the loss of natural capital due to deforestation and land degradation alone at between $2 trillion and $4.5 trillion each year.” Environmental protection and economic protection are two sides of the same coin. He urged member states to invest in sustainable development, which will assist indigenous people to protect the biodiversity in developing countries and meet the Millennium Development Goals of food security, poverty eradication and world health and to build resilience to climate change. Biodiversity and climate change are mutually interdependent. Continued deforestation, over-fishing, industrial agriculture, and introduced invasive species will continue the high rate of extinctions and loss of habitats and exacerbate climate change impacts. Programs as the UNDP Equator Initiative, and the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program have been put in place to provide assistance. Norway has pledged 500 million to prevent the deforestation of the rainforest for monoculture crops within rainforest settings. The Amazon forest will reach a tipping point if 20-30% of the forest is cut or burned creating savannas prone to drought cycles and fire. Today 17% of the Brazilian rainforest has been cut and burned. According to Veerle Vandeweerd, UNDP Environment and Energy Group, three quarters of the world’s population rely on the natural environment for survival. 1.5 billion people live in dry lands and 1 billion people rely on sustenance fishing. There is a need for poverty reduction and biodiversity protection.






We need a new strategy that links climate change, biodiversity, and the Millennium Development Goals with concrete targets and implementation in cooperation with the developed and developing countries. According to Stas Burgiel in Convention on Biological Diversity: a progress report, “The UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) is the single most important international agreement designed to protect the world’s biodiversity, to encourage the sustainable use of biological resources, and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from such use.” The Convention was signed at the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1992 Conference on Environment and Development- known as the Earth Summit. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted on 11 September 2003. It establishes rules under which crops and other organisms, which have been genetically modified, can be transferred from one country to another. According to Stas Burgiel’s Convention on Biological Diversity: a progress report- “The United States was perhaps foremost among developed countries in resisting potential restrictions on biotechnology and intellectual property rights. Indeed, President Bush (senior) refused to sign the CBD at the Earth Summit in Rio. Although President Clinton signed the Convention two years later, so far, the United States remains one of a small handful of countries that has not ratified the agreement, and so has refused to frame its own national laws in line with the CBD.” Policies must be put in place to protect indigenous knowledge of medicines and cures from the extractive and exclusive corporate explorers who patent local knowledge without proper recompense.

Note to Editor: Hyperlink at United States http://www.cbd.int/countries/

The Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, (COP-10) and the Cartagena Protocol for Biosafety, (COP-MOP 5) will be held in Nagoya, Japan on 29 October 2010. Perhaps the cataclysmic loss of life within the coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico broadcast around the world will galvanize our President and members of Congress to act responsibly to represent the best interests of her people on this blue planet we share with all life in this time of crisis. The nations of the world must be united and just if we are to come to a common accord to exercise our collective Rights of Responsibility, to protect and restore Earth’s biodiversity from potential extinctions and the effects of climate change. A welcome has been extended to the United States to join the Family of Nations in this Year of Biodiversity.


© Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby, 2010


Joseph Ingoldsby, writes and advocates for biodiversity. Recent works include Vanishing Landscapes and Endangered Species, The Science Exhibition: Curation & Design, Museums etc Press, UK, 2010; Icons of the Vanishing Prairies, 2009; Vanishing Landscapes: The Atlantic Salt Marsh, Leonardo Journal, 42-2-2009 MIT Press; and Requiem for a Drowning Landscape, Orion Magazine, March/April 2009.

Web site: www.JosephIngoldsby.com
Blog site: http://www.earthelegies.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Celebrate the International Mangrove Action Day -2010

Centre for Coastal Environmental Conservation (CCEC), an NGO celebrated the International Mangrove Action Day (26th July) -2010 at Burigoalini Union adjoining Burigoalini Forest Range Office at Shyamnagar UPZ under Satkhira District of Bangladesh. The CCEC organized a rally with the active participation of Mangroves Protection Society (MPS) members and Sundarbans stakeholders i.e. bouali (wood and thatch cutter), mouali (honey extractor), jellay(fish and crab catcher) cooperative society members. The rally moved around Datinakhali Nil-Dumur BDR/BGB Camp and Burigoalini key areas including plantation site followed by a discussion and circulation of posters and leaflets at “Sundarbans Information and Tourism Promotion centre” run by CCEC. Discussion includes on the important roll and potential of Sundarbans mangrove forest. Mangrove safe our life especially during catastrophic cyclone for example cyclone-SIDR, and cyclone-AILA. The Sundarbans mangrove is the remaining natural coastal defender of Bangladesh and acts like a mother. They also mentioned that Sundarbans mangrove is a source of livelihood, food, fuel of coastal communities and ideal habitat for biodiversity. They commit that the Sundarbans must be protected in cooperation with all concerned. The meeting was attended by Forest Officials, CCEC field supervisors Shamir Kumar Dhali, Nirapado Mondal, Nur Islam. The meeting was also represented by Mr. Shamsur Rahman the Chairperson, stakeholder cooperative society and mouali group leader Mr. Mostofa Sardar who spoke on the discussion meeting. As part of UNEP-APFED Showcase project, titled “Sundarbans crab fattening in bamboo cages and mangrove restoration as an adaptation to climate change” funded by Thailand Environment Institute (TEI).
submitted by
Mowdudur Rahman (Environ. Risk Assessment)
Founder Director
Centre for Coastal Environmental Conservation (CCEC)
&
IUCN-CEC (Bangladesh)
Takdir Mohal,
House # 93 Road # 2 Sonadanga R/A,
Khulna-9000, Bangladesh
Phone: 88 041 810982
Cell: 01712 995 180
E-mail: ccec_bd@khulna.bangla.net
Website: www.ccecbd.org

Khulna Declaration

To protect lives and livelihoods of southwest coastal region from
impact of climate change and environmental degradation

Saturday, 10 July 2010, 25 Asharh 1416
Khulna, Bangladesh


We, more than two hundred representatives from different sectors of the society including Members of Parliament, Local Government, Political Parties, Researcher, Teacher, Women Rights Movement, Sociocultural organisation, Students' Organisation, Development Organisation, Small and marginal Farmer and Forest and Indigenous Communities of Southwest Coastal Region of Bangladesh,

Gathering today on tenth of July Two thousand Ten AD in the eve of 'Southwest Coastal Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Coastal Livelihood: Perspective Cyclone Aila' at Khulna Divisional City,
Recalling the potentials of world heritage the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, fertile alluvial land, billion tons of sediments, disaster-tolerant local rice varieties, rivers and canals like arteries and rich traditional cultural practices;
Concerned for the vulnerabilities of the rural livelihoods such as small and marginal farmer, agricultural labour, fisherman and other natural resource dependant people of Southwest region due to frequent and intensive natural disasters including cyclone Aila, adverse impact of climate change and environmental degradation and unwise development initiatives;
Emphasising on emergence of short, mid and long term initiatives as because the livelihood and ecological problems becomes complicated for climate change induced vulnerabilities and adverse impacts of infrastructural mega projects financed by the Multinational Development Banks (MDBs), Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and 'Donor Organizations' from developed countries;
Solely proclaiming these 21-point demands as Khulna Declaration and urging the Government of Bangladesh to implement this declaration for sustainable rural livelihoods of southwest coastal region of Bangladesh:

1. Allocate sufficient financial resources immediately for reconstruction of cyclone Aila damaged embankments. Finalize working schedule, tender notice and other necessary activities within September 2010 to complete reconstruction of the breached embankments within December 2010. Take alternative measures to complete this task considering failure of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) in last year;

2. Identify and repair all weakened coastal embankments of southwest coastal region in priority basis. Inter alia ensuring transparency and accountability of BWDB is must to complete this task;

3. Depositing sedimentation in cultivable wetlands of southwest coastal region is must to meet the challenges of land subsidence, sea level rise and wide-spread water logging. To achieve this end, implement Tidal River Management (TRM) in this region as an integral part of the embankments;

4. Update the Embankment Protection Act 1952 and adopt seven years jail for making hole in, illegal cut or any other damage of the embankments. Simultaneously, ensure local small and marginal farmers participation in embankment management;

5. Increase the height of coastal embankments southwest region to eight mitres like southeast and use geo-fibre and iron-net to make it capable of protecting cyclone and tidal surges. Construct roads and highways on the embankments to ensure proper and regular use of them;

6. Stop leasing of riverbanks create environments of planting mangrove forest at outside of the embankments. Stop leasing of state-owned canals and water bodies within the polder. Protect these common resources to use for freshwater reservoir for irrigation for agricultural production, and for natural fish varieties;

7. Provide agricultural tools including fertilizer, seeds and irrigation support to the cyclone Aila affected small and marginal farmers. At the same time, promote local saline and disaster tolerant varieties by banning distribution of hybrid and Genetically Modified (GM) seeds which have come from unknown sources;

8. Provide adequate scholarships and free educational materials to the cyclone Aila affected students to ensure their smooth primary, secondary and higher education;

9. Change the mindset of Cordon Approach of implementing cross dams, river training, flood control and water development, and adopt a different Embankment Management Policy with attitude of sedimentation and water management. Simultaneously, crash the upstream dams to ensure freshwater in the coastal river and canals;

10. Ban the brackish water shrimp cultivation in the agricultural land of coastal region considering its adverse long term socioeconomic and environmental impact.

11. Immediately finance and undertake socioeconomic development projects for climate victims including cyclone Aila induced refugees;

12. Create joint and continuous international pressure on the developed industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission and ensure reparations for capacity building to reduce vulnerabilities of climate induced disasters;

13. Assess environmental impacts and take local people's opinion considering negative impacts of climate change before undertaking Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other IFIs financed mega project in the coastal zone;

14. Establish an Adaptation and Mitigation Centre in southwest coastal region considering frequency and adversity of disasters in this region. At the same time, construct one cyclone shelter for every one thousand people in the disaster-prone areas;

15. Provide support to the poor people for constructing disaster-tolerant, environment-friendly and long-lasting houses in southwest coastal region. To this end, undertake an Integrated Settlement Plan for this region. Simultaneously, undertake sustainable measures for safe drinking water and sanitation considering increased salinity and tidal surge;

16. Protect illegal wood extraction, forest bandits and corruption to protect world's largest single track mangrove forest, the Sundarbans;

17. Stop refusing traditional rights of forest peoples of the Sundarbans in the name of conserving biodiversity after disasters like cyclone Aila. At the same time, stop using the Sundarbans as a Carbon Reservoir for corporate Carbon Trading in the name of Climate Change Mitigation;

18. Excavate and dredge dead rivers of the region and smash the entire infrastructure which are creating barrier to drainage. Keep at least fifty mitres water channel in every kilometre of roads and highways;

19. Do not allow any international debt-trade or profit-driven trade aggression to take chance of disaster, extreme salinity, climate-tolerant seed, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), green technology, water scarcity etc.;

20. Reactivate Coastal Development Board (CDB) and implement the recommendation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) for sustainable development of coastal zone;

21. Amend the National Water Policy and Agricultural Policy to incorporate specific measures for reducing vulnerabilities of coastal zone.


We again urge to the Government of Bangladesh to implement these demands of Khulna Declaration and to promote sustainable rural livelihoods of coastal disaster affected people.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MAP established the Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) yahoo e-group to share information amongst mangrove restoration practitioners in the Bay of Bengal Region following an EMR workshop MAP held in AP India in 2005. EMR puts the focus on hydrology and correcting it if it's preventing natural regeneration from occurring. Using EMR often means that planting seedlings is not required and the result will be a more natural biodiverse mangrove forest. The e-group has proved to be an effective tool for information and experience sharing on mangrove restoration so the group has been opened to all others interested in EMR to join. Now the group has more than 75 members including students, NGOs, academics, and mangrove restoration practitioners from Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. The emphasis of the group is on sharing mangrove restoration information using the EMR methodology to improve the effectiveness of mangrove restoration projects but other information on mangrove conservation is also being exchanged.

To learn more about the EMR group and to request to join please go the EMR group's home page http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/emr_group/