Rivers are the world’s heritage. Time to treat them as such (commentary)

first_imgAmazon Dams, Commentary, Dams, Editorials, Environment, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Mekong Dams, Researcher Perspective Series, Rivers, UNESCO World Heritage Site, World Heritage Convention Article published by Mike Gaworecki This July represents a critical opportunity to protect rivers and the World Heritage sites that depend on them. Key government leaders will converge on Baku, Azerbaijan for the 43rd annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee this week.Established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Committee is charged with protecting sites around the world deemed of the highest cultural and natural values. But oddly, no river has yet been directly protected by the Committee.Beyond protecting existing sites from harm, the World Heritage Committee needs to broaden its conception of what constitutes a natural site to recognize the intrinsic value of rivers, particularly free-flowing rivers, and the critical role they play in sustaining life.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. This July represents a critical opportunity to protect rivers and the World Heritage sites that depend on them.Key government leaders will converge on Baku, Azerbaijan for the 43rd annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee this week. Established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Committee is charged with protecting sites around the world deemed of the highest cultural and natural values. From Machu Picchu to the Great Barrier Reef, these sites represent some of our most precious common treasures. But oddly, no river has yet been directly protected by the Committee.That said, a key underlying theme of the meeting is the growing threat that dams pose to some of the world’s irreplaceable sites. This is the subject of a new report, “Heritage Dammed,” prepared by the Rivers Without Boundaries coalition with contributions from International Rivers (where I work as policy director) and many others. The report finds that over one-quarter of all natural World Heritage sites, including the iconic Lake Baikal in Russia and Serengeti National Park, are being impacted or threatened by water infrastructure such as dams.In recognition of this worsening trend, the World Heritage Committee passed a resolution in 2016 calling for the prohibition on dams within the boundaries of World Heritage sites, as well as for any dams indirectly impacting these sites to be “rigorously assessed.” While a welcome step, this has not prevented key sites from the worst impacts: Last year, Kenya’s Lake Turkana was finally added to the official list of sites in danger only after Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam cut off flows into the lake, causing lake levels to drop precipitously and leading to extreme food insecurity for the hundreds of thousands of people subsisting off the lake.The sacred waterfalls on the Teles Pires River, Brazil. Photo by Christopher Borges, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.Against this backdrop, the issue of dams has come back into focus as a number of critical sites, profiled in the Heritage Dammed report, face renewed threats. These include:• The fate of the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania — a world class biodiversity hotspot for African wildlife, including endangered species — that is set to be inundated by the planned Rufiji Dam. The plans have provoked an international outcry, prompting one of the world’s largest dam builders, China Three Gorges, to state publicly that it would not pursue the project because it would be located within a World Heritage site.• The future of the Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq, which sustain important freshwater fisheries and a vibrant local culture, after the government of Turkey announced the completion of the Ilisu Dam near the headwaters of the Tigris River. Opponents around the world have rallied to contest plans to begin filling the reservoir, which would submerge the town of Hasankeyf — renowned for being continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years — in the process. Filling of the reservoir has been postponed as a result, but the threat remains.• The Sumatran Rainforest site in Indonesia, officially listed as “In Danger” since 2011 over the construction of dams and other developments. The site has again emerged as a flashpoint in light of the discovery of the newly identified species, the Tapanuli orangutan, with only 800 remaining and at risk of extinction with a dam proposed in the middle of its only habitat. Plans to build the 510-megawatt Batang Toru Dam have been cast into doubt, however, as the Bank of China announced it would reevaluate its plans to finance the dam in light of sustained protest.Selous Game Reserve World Heritage Site, Tanzania. Photo by Greg Armfield.To proactively address the growing threat of dams, the report makes specific recommendations for how the Committee can improve the protection of rivers, including the use of preemptive strategic environmental assessments, among other precautionary measures.But beyond protecting existing sites from harm, the World Heritage Committee needs to broaden its conception of what constitutes a natural site to recognize the intrinsic value of rivers, particularly free-flowing rivers, and the critical role they play in sustaining life. Free-flowing rivers form the bedrock for local cultures and communities and have huge ecological significance, serving as the world’s last bastion of dwindling freshwater biodiversity. Indeed, a recent study by WWF found that dams are the biggest culprit in the 83 percent decline in freshwater biodiversity experienced globally between 1970 and 2014. Yet of the world’s 177 largest rivers, only one-third are free flowing, and just 21 rivers longer than 1000 kilometers retain an unobstructed connection to the sea.Many free-flowing rivers sit adjacent to existing World Heritage sites, but their values are not recognized or protected. For example, the actual river ecosystems of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan heritage site in China are deliberately excluded from the protected area. They are now threatened again by the construction of mega-dams on all three rivers, including one of Asia’s last free-flowing rivers, the Nu-Salween, which originates in the Tibetan Plateau and flows through China and Myanmar. Still more of the world’s threatened rivers have no world heritage designation, from the mighty Congo River in Central Africa to the Karnali River, Nepal’s last, most pristine free-flowing river.While the world’s last free-flowing rivers are often subjected to reckless plans to harness them for their hydropower potential, the Baku meeting is also coming at a time of positive momentum as countries have begun to recognize the rights of rivers and river advocates lead campaigns to secure permanent legal protections for rivers. The World Heritage Committee should join this growing movement and take the lead in calling for free-flowing rivers to be protected and the nomination of iconic rivers as World Heritage sites.The Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in the United States. Photo by Christian Mehlführer, licensed under CC BY 2.5.Josh Klemm is Policy Director for International Rivers.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.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

‘Witnessing extinction in the flames’ as the Amazon burns for agribusiness

first_imgThe vast and biodiverse Triunfo do Xingu protected area in the Brazilian Amazon lost 22 percent of its forest cover between 2007 and 2018, with figures this year indicating the rate of deforestation is accelerating.The surge in deforestation, driven largely by cattle ranching, is part of a wider trend of encroachment into protected areas across the Brazilian Amazon under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, according to conservationists.With the widespread clearing slicing up the larger protected area into smaller fragments of forest, human rights advocates worry that it will become increasingly difficult for forest-dependent indigenous communities to survive within it.The deforestation is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the biodiversity of the region, which is home to countless species of plants and animals not adapted to living in areas with higher temperatures and less vegetation. TRIUNFO DO XINGU, Brazil — The rolling hills of the Triunfo do Xingu protected area in northern Brazil are a patchwork of vibrant emerald green and deep burnt orange. Dark plumes of smoke dot the jungle landscape stretching beyond the sprawling pastures, where cattle graze. Alongside the dirt roads crisscrossing the region, tree stumps jut out from the charred ground amid dried-up vegetation.The Área de Proteção Ambiental (APA) Triunfo do Xingu is a vast region spanning some ​​1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) across the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, in the heart of Brazil’s northern state of Pará. The area is an ecological treasure, housing various types of forest and a rich tapestry of plant and animal species. It is also home to indigenous groups and traditional peoples, who rely on the forest to survive while preserving their way of life.The Triunfo do Xingu area has been under state protection for more than a decade, although some land development is legally permitted. In 2006, Pará granted the area a conservation status aimed at preserving its biodiversity and ensuring sustainable use of its natural resources. Under this type of designation, some clearing is allowed on a small part of the territory while the remainder is supposed to be earmarked for environmental preservation.Yet satellite data from the University of Maryland (UMD) show that Triunfo do Xingu lost around 22 percent of its forest cover between 2007 and 2018, despite its protected status. Preliminary figures for 2019 indicate the deforestation rate may be rising even higher. Between January and October, UMD picked up more than half a million deforestation alerts in the protected area — more than half of those in August alone.Triunfo do Xingu’s was nearly completely covered in primary forest less than 20 years ago. However, much has been lost as land is cleared for agriculture. Source: GLAD/UMD, accessed through Global Forest WatchSatellite imagery shows ongoing, large-scale forest loss throughout Triunfo do Xingu. At this site in the western part of the protected area, around 6 square kilometers (2.3 square miles) was cleared between May and September. Source: Planet Labs.At this southern site, the forest showed signs of recent burning when Mongabay visited in September. Source: Planet Labs.Most of those who have been clearing land in recent months are doing so without the licensing needed to legally develop the territory for industrial activity, sources in the region say. They also appear to be carving out chunks of forest that are far larger than what is permitted within the Triunfo do Xingu area under its protected status.“Eighty percent of the area has to be preserved,” said one public official in the region, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “But in reality, of course, that’s not the case. It’s the reverse — the majority is being deforested and developed, all illegally. It’s a land without law here.”Deeper into the forestThe surge in illegal deforestation in Triunfo do Xingu is part of a larger, deeply worrying trend of encroachment into protected areas seen across the Brazilian Amazon, said Ricardo Abad. Abad works as an analyst at the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), an NGO that defends environmental diversity and the rights of indigenous and traditional people.“Not only is there a rise in deforestation but most of it is happening inside protected areas, which have traditionally served as a shield stopping this deforestation,” said Abad, whose work is focused on the Xingu basin. “But, just in the last few months, we have seen a very big concentration of the kind of leakage, from outside of the protected areas to inside of the protected areas.”In Triunfo do Xingu, most of the recent deforestation has been driven by cattle ranching, as farmers convert more land for their livestock. São Félix do Xingu, a municipality of about 125,000 in which about two-thirds of the protected area lies, is the largest cattle-producing municipality in Brazil and is home to nearly 20 times more livestock than people. Some smaller patches of deforestation, mostly in the northern part of the APA, are also the result of mining, logging and land-grabbing, sources say.What once was rainforest now is cattle pasture in APA Triunfo do Xingu. Photo by Ana Ionova for Mongabay.The rhetoric of President Jair Bolsonaro seems to have played a role in the deforestation surge in this region, where support for the controversial leader is strong and the yellow football shirt that has become a symbol of far-right politics is a common sight. Bolsonaro has repeatedly vowed to loosen restrictions on development in the Amazon, a message that has deeply resonated with farmers and ranchers here. Meanwhile, fines for environmental crimes have dropped sharply since he took office at the start of this year, which critics say has helped create a climate of impunity.As a result, both large and small agricultural producers have been emboldened to deforest more land across the region, local sources say. In August, Pará state made headlines when it emerged that growers and ranchers were hatching a plan over Whatsapp to set coordinated fires in support of Bolsonaro. Authorities caught wind of the plot but were too slow to act, and data show that the number of fires tripled on that date compared to a year earlier.“The political rhetoric is encouraging crimes against our Amazon,” Ananza Mara Rabello, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Sul e Sudeste do Pará, told an audience gathered in São Félix do Xingu’s legislative building in early September. “Because the fire in the Amazon is not natural.”The remote location of Triunfo do Xingu, meanwhile, has made it easier to deforest without fear of facing penalties. The protected area lies across the river from the town of São Félix do Xingu, only accessible by the boats that periodically carry over anything from trucks and motorcycles to cattle and consumer goods.On the opposite bank of the Xingu River, a massive billboard advertising an upcoming cattle fair loomed over the makeshift port during a recent visit. From this informal entrance to the protected Triunfo do Xingu area, a web of haphazard dirt roads stretched through the vast territory. Our four-wheel-drive truck snaked through rough, narrow paths dented by gaping holes for hours to reach freshly cleared patches of forest. We passed large swaths of forest burned within the last few weeks and, deep into the territory, encountered a blaze that was actively engulfing virgin forest. The landscape was dotted with the occasional farm or ranch, but, for the most part, the area was deserted.A road winds through protected land, flanked by the charred remains of forest. Photo by Ana Ionova for Mongabay.An active fire consumes forest in Triunfo do Xingu. Photo by Ana Ionova for Mongabay.The region is struggling with lax enforcement of environmental regulations, said Danilo Antônio Lago, a pastor with the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) in São Félix do Xingu, an arm of the Catholic Church that works to advance human rights in rural communities across Brazil. In the Xingu region, the CPT works with small farmers to find alternatives to clearing land and runs projects that aim to regenerate degraded forests.“They act with impunity because they feel protected,” Lago told Mongabay in an interview. “It’s so remote, that people know nobody will come to fine them, nothing will happen to them.”Local, state and federal authorities have tried to crack down on illegal deforestation in Triunfo do Xingu in recent weeks amid global panic over a surge in burning across the broader Brazilian Amazon, which is on course to experience its worst fire season since 2010. There have been operations by Brazil’s environmental agency, known as IBAMA, as well as state environmental police, the military’s jungle battalion, the air force, and the municipal and state environmental secretariats.Yet sources say that the operations have been a symbolic Band-aid effort, with limited scope to curb deforestation in the Triunfo do Xingu region in the longer term. With no headquarters in São Félix do Xingu and few agents in the sprawling broader area, IBAMA doesn’t have the capacity to uniformly enforce the law across the region. And while the greater presence of authorities in recent weeks has helped temporarily slow the clearing, most expect it to resume with full force as attention shifts elsewhere.last_img read more

Cardiff sign defender Brown from Wealdstone

first_imgEmbed from Getty ImagesCardiff City have signed defender Ciaron Brown from Wealdstone.The 20-year-old, who previously had a trial with Sheffield Wednesday, made 66 appearances for the Stones after being signed from Bedfont Sports.“I’d like to wish Ciaron a very successful career,” said Stones boss Bobby Wilkinson.“It’s a great achievement to become a pro. He’s worked very hard and we will always support him and we will follow his progress with great interest.”Cardiff will visit Wealdstone in a pre-season friendly this summer as part of the deal agreed between the two clubs.See also:Stones defender to join Sheffield Wednesday on trialShrewsbury sign Eisa from WealdstoneStones complete signing of striker BubbWealdstone bring in Reading defender on loan Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

SA state steelmaker one step nearer

first_img27 November 2012 South Africa moved one step closer to the creation of a state-owned steel manufacturer on Monday with the Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC’s) R3.4-billion acquisition of Anglo American’s majority stake in the Scaw Metals Group. Resources giant Anglo American said in a statement on Monday that it had finalised the sale of its 74% interest in Scaw Metals to an IDC-led consortium that included empowerment partners Izingwe Holdings, Shanduka Resources and the Southern Palace Group of Companies. The IDC’s divisional executive of mining and manufacturing, Abel Malinga, said in a statement that the acquisition “puts the IDC in a unique position to make the necessary investments to grow Scaw’s operations, supporting beneficiation, infrastructure development and South Africa’s economic growth”. The government has for some time criticised market leader ArcelorMittal SA for selling steel locally at export prices. “High steel input costs inhibit the development of a robust and sustainable downstream steel fabrication industry to the detriment of job creation,” Malinga said. “It is critical to maintain and deepen the industrialisation of the economy by refocusing the beneficiation strategy to support fabrication and manufacturing.” Malinga said the IDC aimed to leverage existing strengths within the business, to grow it into a global player, taking advantage of opportunities that would be opened up by South Africa’s massive state-led infrastructure drive, announced earlier this year by President Jacob Zuma. “As a leading diversified South African fabricator, Scaw has the potential to be a key supplier to planned infrastructure and construction programmes.” SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Plus pick: Himachal Pradesh

first_imgStayWildflower Hall, ShimlaSet in the midst of 23 acres of lush woods of pine and cedar, this luxury resort has rooms that offer commanding views of the Himalayas and the food and service are truly world-class. But your most abiding memory of Wildflower Hall could be the rejuvenating massages offered at its immaculate spa. Tel: (0177) 264 858; www.oberoihotels.com Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, Centara Boutique CollectionTucked away in the Shivalik valley, this resort makes for a perfect getaway and reaching it is even more exciting–the final leg of the journey needs to done by taking a cable car. The stunning views of the valley are visible from almost every corner of this resort, whether you are in the suite, at the heated infinity pool or the terrace restaurant. Do visit the spa to unwind completely. Tel: (01792) 232 301Homestays near ShimlaWith Shimla getting saturated, the concept of homestays has caught on. Mashobara offers quite a variety and among its inventory, Violet Hill and Forest Hill Villas come in for special mention. There’s also Marigold Holiday Cottages in Sidhora, a picturesque village 15 km from Shimla. Himachal Tourism also offers a choice of 160 homes across most districts.EatThe Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, ShimlaA stay in Shimla is not complete without at least one meal at the Oberoi Cecil. Both the food and the ambience are equally appealing at this wood-panelled restaurant. The selection of dishes spans both European and Asian cuisines. Popular with visitors, its theme evenings celebrating the heritage of the Cecil are quite a draw. Tel: (0177) 280 4848Casa Bella Vista Cafe, ManaliCraving for international cuisine? The sprightly Casa Bella Vista, near the Log Huts, overlooking the Manalsu rivulet, will come to your rescue. This is the perfect place to sit under the deodars for a scrumptious Spanish meal. Surprisingly it only serves vegetarian food. But don’t skip the freshly baked, thin-crust wood-oven pizzas. Tel: (01902) 221 985Chonor House, Dharamshala If you are a Richard Gere fan and also a foodie you cannot escape a visit to Chonor House. The actor makes it a point to stay at Chonor House whenever he’s in town. The courtyard restaurant is perfect for lunch and you are sure to enjoy the Tibetan and Thai food on offer. Finish your meal with a hot cappuccino and a mouth-watering pastry from the selection of sweet treats. Tel: (01892) 221 006/468ShopShawlsThe colourful bands of woven patterns found on shawls stand out distinctly wherever you travel in these hills. The designs are strongly reflective of the intermingling of traditions, especially Tibetan and Chinese, those influences coming by way of trading ties. And now there is a shift in colour codes with subdued pastels and rich earthy tones appearing on the shelves. The Bodh Shawls in Manali is a recommended place to pick up stylish new patternsKangra PaintingsThis form of art dates back to the 18th century when Mughal rulers came to India. You can pick up these Kangra and Basholi miniature paintings from the Bhuri Singh Museum in Chamba and the Kangra Art Museum in Lower Dharamshala. Both have an excellent collection of Kangra Valley arts and crafts. The Kangra Art Museum also includes a gallery of the famous miniature paintings and has a collection of sculpture, pottery and other anthropological items.Fruit WineImagine sitting at a restaurant, gazing at a green valley and sipping a glass of chilled apple wine. Doesn’t it sound absolutely divine? Himachal produces a large variety of flavoursome fruit wines. They are created from apples, pears, peaches, cherries, kiwi, strawberries and many more fruits. They bring you the best from the orchards. They are available at most of the hillstations in HimachalSeeAdventure SportsThose who have the guts for extreme adventure can always expect Himachal to unravel something new. You can try rafting on the Spiti and Pin rivers. In Manali there is the option of heli skiing. A chopper transports you to the top of a peak and you ski down the slopes. Other adventure sports include mountain cycling, paragliding, ice skating and angling. Can you ask for more? Heritage Trail, ShimlaTake a walk around Shimla to see the heritage buildings. Start from the Gaiety Theatre at the Mall. The 122-year-old building is one of Shimla’s oldest heritage structures. Another building is the Christ Church, one of the second oldest churches in north India. After this, head to Viceregal Lodge on Observatory Hill. It is surrounded by oak and rhododendron thickets. Kullu DussheraKullu begins its celebration on Vijayadashimi, the 10th day. Some 360 deities from villages in Kullu valley, in carved gold, silver and copper masks, are brought down to Kullu town in decorated palanquins to pay homage to the main deity Raghunath. The processions are accompanied by drummers and dancers.advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more