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

From over 100,000 species assessments in IUCN update, zero improvements

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 Shreya Dasgupta The latest IUCN Red List update, which includes assessments of 105,732 species, lists more than 28,000 species as threatened with extinction.The declines of many of these species can be attributed to human overexploitation, according to the IUCN. The red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), for example, has moved from vulnerable to endangered in 2019, largely because of threats from illegal hunting for bushmeat and conversion of much of the monkey’s Atlantic coast forest habitat in West Africa to agriculture.More than 5,000 trees from 180 countries, and 500 deep-sea bony fish species like the bioluminescent lanternfishes, were also added to the Red List this year.No species was assessed as having genuinely improved in status enough to earn it a place in a lower threat category, according to the IUCN. From rays to deep-sea snails, primates to rosewood trees, the latest IUCN Red List update paints a gloomy picture for our world’s species.The update, which includes assessments of 105,732 animal and plant species to date, lists more than 28,000 species as threatened with extinction, attributing much of the declines to human overexploitation.The red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), for instance, a monkey previously listed as vulnerable, has now been moved to endangered, largely because of declining numbers driven by illegal hunting for bushmeat and conversion of much of its Atlantic coast forest habitat in West Africa to agriculture.In East Africa, the pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is fighting a losing battle against the global pet trade. Thanks to overexploitation for this trade, along with destruction of its preferred rock habitats, the reptile has moved from being listed as vulnerable to critically endangered.More than 90 percent of all the rosewood and palissander (Dalbergia) tree species assessed on the Red List, too, are now threatened, mostly because of illegal trafficking and habitat loss. Freshwater fish seem to be struggling as well, with the loss of free-flowing rivers and increasing pollution driving more than half of Japan’s endemic freshwater fish and over a third of freshwater fish in Mexico toward extinction, according to a press release from the IUCN.No species was assessed as having “genuinely improved in status enough” to earn them a place in a lower threat category for this update, the IUCN said.“With more than 100,000 species now assessed for the IUCN Red List, this update clearly shows how much humans around the world are overexploiting wildlife,” Grethel Aguilar, acting director general of the IUCN, said in the statement. “States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature, and must respect and support local communities and Indigenous Peoples in strengthening sustainable livelihoods.”Pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri). Image by Dick Culbert via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).According to the latest update, 873 species are now extinct, while 73 species are extinct in the wild. Some 6,127 species are at the edge of extinction, assessed as critically endangered. These include species of wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes, also referred to as rhino rays because of their elongated snouts, which are now among the most threatened marine fish families in the world. Fifteen of the 16 species assessed are critically endangered. Two species in particular, the clown wedgefish (Rhynchobatus cooki) of the Indo-Malay archipelago and the false shark ray (Rhynchorhina mauritaniensis) of Mauritania, are likely very close to extinction. Living in shallow ocean waters, these rays are caught frequently as bycatch, and overexploited by fisheries, with their meat sold locally and fins traded for shark-fin soup.“The alarm bell has been sounding again and again concerning the unravelling crisis in freshwater and marine wildlife around the world and it’s time we pay attention,” said Andrew Terry, director of conservation and policy at the Zoological Society of London.The latest Red List update lists 9,754 species as endangered, 12,457 as vulnerable and 6,435 species as near threatened. More than 15,000 species are listed as data deficient, which means there’s insufficient information to assess their conservation status.Giant guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis). Image by Peter Giger via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).There are thousands of new entries in the IUCN Red List this year. These include a West African evergreen tree, Allophylus samoritourei, that grows up to 18 meters (59 feet) tall. It’s listed as endangered, with fewer than 250 mature individuals estimated throughout its range, including 180 mature trees in Guinea. The species is on the decline because of habitat loss from mining, agriculture and urban expansion.The Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock), a species known only from the Kilum-Ijim Forest in Cameroon, debuts on the list as critically endangered (possibly extinct). Once the most abundant frog at Lake Oku, it hasn’t been seen since 2010. Researchers say the frog population has likely declined or disappeared mainly because of chytridiomycosis, a deadly fungal disease caused by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that has devastated amphibian populations across the world.More than 5,000 trees from 180 countries have also been added to the Red List this year. The American elm (Ulmus americana), once found across Canada and the United States, for example, enters the Red List as endangered, its populations declining over decades due to Dutch elm disease, an invasive fungal pathogen.“The implications for people are that we lose valuable resources such as rosewoods and elms, and we also lose ecosystem resilience, undermining the essential ecosystem services that forests provide,” Paul Smith, secretary general of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, said in the statement.In addition to trees, several deep-sea species also make their appearance on the updated list, including 500 deep-sea bony fish species like the bioluminescent lanternfishes. A deep-sea hydrothermal vent mollusc, the scaly-foot snail (Chrysomallon squamiferum), debuts as endangered as well. The snail is known from only three locations on hydrothermal vents at depths of down to 2,900 meters (9,500 feet) in the Indian Ocean. With the prospect of future development of deep-sea mining in two of these areas, the snail’s habitat could be destroyed, the press release says. Some 20 percent of all the deep-sea assessments are, however, data-deficient, raising the need for studies on these species.“As many of the world’s deep sea species are being assessed for the first time, we are just starting to understand the impact of threats to this mostly unexplored and unmanaged frontier,” Beth Polidoro, a marine toxicologist at Arizona State University and co-chair of the Marine Fishes Red List Authority, said in the statement. “As such, the importance of the IUCN Red List process for deep sea species is increasingly evident, as it is one of the only indicators on the status of deep sea biodiversity across the globe.”The scaly-foot snail is known from just three locations in the deep sea. Image by Chong Chen.Banner image of red-capped mangabey by BeKay via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).center_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Critically Endangered Species, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Forests, Green, Iucn, Plants, Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife last_img read more