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

RSPO questions effectiveness of Indonesian palm plantation moratorium

first_imgArticle published by Hans Nicholas Jong Banner image: Oil palm plantation in Rawa Singking Wildlife Reserve. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay-Indonesia. There hasn’t been any quantifiable way to tell if a year-long moratorium on issuing new licenses for oil palm plantations has been effective, observers say.Indonesia imposed the moratorium last year, but failed to define baseline data or publish permit details that would have been essential to measuring progress, according to an official from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.As part of the moratorium, the government also ordered a review of existing plantation permits; however, a lack of sanctions sends the message that violators can keep “making mistakes over and over again.”An industry watchdog has called on the government to stop thinking about the industry in terms of sheer production volume, and instead to find ways to ensure that the production is sustainable. JAKARTA — A year after the Indonesian government imposed a ban on issuing new licenses for oil palm plantations, the leading certification body for sustainable sourcing of the crop has criticized the policy as essentially ineffective.The licensing moratorium, signed by President Joko Widodo in September last year and expected to remain in force for a maximum of three years, has resulted in the withholding of permits to clear a combined 16,000 square kilometers (6,200 square miles) of forest areas for plantations. The moratorium also calls for government ministries and regional governments to conduct a massive review of existing licenses, since many are known to have been issued in violation of procedures.But whether the freeze has had a net positive impact on sustainability in the world’s biggest producer of palm oil is difficult to say, according to a representative of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Tiur Rumondang, the Indonesian country director for the RSPO, said she had identified at least three weaknesses in the policy, making it “hard for us to quantify whether this moratorium truly has a meaning in numbers for RSPO or not.”“If the moratorium is considered as a tool to cut off mistakes in the management and operation of the palm oil industry, then frankly speaking this tool is blunt,” Tiur said at an event in Jakarta hosted by Sawit Watch, an NGO that monitors the palm oil industry.Smoke rises from an oil palm plantation on a peatland in Sumatra. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Lack of data and transparencyOne of the most obvious flaws in the policy is the fact that there’s no definitive baseline data from which to gauge the effectiveness of the moratorium in achieving its goals, according to Tiur.“If the goal is improvement, it means the problems [in the palm oil industry] have been reduced,” she said. “If the goal is eliminating illegal permits, it means sanctions have been given. If the goal is productivity, it means the productivity is increased. That’s very clear.”She also cited the lack of a monitoring mechanism to ensure the policy is implemented properly, with no new permits issued during the moratorium period. “There’s no structured mechanism on who is [in charge of] monitoring,” Tiur said.Instead, NGOs have taken it on themselves to act as watchdogs, she pointed out.“But this is a government policy whose progress has to be measured,” Tiur said. “I personally don’t know who’s doing [the monitoring].”Even if there were a clearly designated government institution to monitor progress, it would still be difficult to quantify any progress, or lack thereof, due to the secrecy that surrounds the Indonesian palm oil industry, she said.“Even the data on the size of palm oil [concessions for which] permits have been issued has never been disclosed by the government,” Tiur said.The government recently said it had identified 163,800 square kilometers (63,200 square miles) of oil palm plantations throughout Indonesia after consolidating data from various government agencies. Of this total area, nearly a fifth, or about 31,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) comprise illegal plantations that lack forest conversion permits.Crucially, however, there’s no officially published data on how many plantations have obtained agricultural permits, known locally as HGU, which is the final license required by a company in order to develop a plantation.“The question is, how many HGU permits have been issued?” Tiur said. “Now the moratorium has to be enforced with the goal to see if the permits issued are legal or not. But how can we do that if the data on HGU permits has never been disclosed, both the size and the location?”The government has insisted on keeping the HGU data, which include plantation maps and boundaries, out of the public’s reach, citing reasons ranging from corporate secrecy to anti-competitive practices to national security. The RSPO, however, requires its members to publish plantation maps on its website.“We don’t need to know the owners [of the plantations],” Tiur said. “But when the data is disclosed [to the public], appropriate sanctions can be given [to companies violating the regulations]. But if these things are never disclosed, then we will never be able to measure the effectiveness of this policy.”Another weakness she identified in the licensing moratorium is the lack of sanctions for any violations found during the review of existing licenses.“If during this process we find violations, what are the sanctions?” Tiur said. “If there’s no sanction, then let’s make mistakes over and over again. That’s the message.”If these weaknesses aren’t addressed, Tiur said, other countries might conclude that the moratorium is a toothless policy.“We have to see that this government policy indeed has teeth and is beneficial,” Tiur said. “But if this policy doesn’t work, then I’m worried that people from other countries will see that not even the government policy is serious [in improving the palm oil industry]. Meanwhile, we want to push our palm oil to be considered suitable for the global market, to be considered sustainable.”A worker takes a chainsaw to an oil palm on an illegal plantation in Tenggulun. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah for Mongabay.Different standardsThe palm oil industry in Indonesia has long been associated with environmental, labor rights and human rights violations, primarily the destruction of vast swaths of tropical rainforest to make way for plantations. To date, there is no credible and accountable system to prevent violations and corruption in the industry.Two official audits by different government agencies have found massive compliance problems. The latest one, conducted by the government’s audit agency, known as the BPK, found that 81 percent of oil palm plantations in Indonesia are operating in violation of numerous regulations.These problems have spawned a consumer backlash against palm oil, which in turn have prompted governments to also crack down. Earlier this year, the European Commission approved a measure to phase out palm oil-based fuels from the European biofuel market by 2030, citing concerns that the production of the crop contributes to global carbon emissions and thus exacerbates climate change.The Indonesian government has sought to address those concerns by developing its own certification scheme, called Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Dedi Junaedi, the director of plantation management at the Ministry of Agriculture, said his office was focusing on pushing companies to comply with the ISPO standard as part of the moratorium.“We are trying to strengthen institutional [capacity] and we are focused on speeding up the certification of ISPO,” he said.But most industry observers rate the ISPO as inferior to the RSPO as far as sustainability standards are concerned, noting that it essentially certifies that a company is abiding by Indonesian law, with little consideration for protection of human rights and community livelihoods. The European Union, Indonesia’s second-largest palm oil export market after India, has said the ISPO isn’t strong enough to be acknowledged by the EU as it’s not considered a global standard for sustainable palm oil, while the RSPO is more broadly recognized.A 2017 report rated the RSPO the best of the existing certification schemes for biofuels and edible oils, while also emphasizing that there was room to improve. In 2018, the RSPO for the first time adopted new standards prohibiting its member companies from clearing any type of forest for palm plantations.Teguh Surya, the executive director of the environmental NGO Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, said that if Indonesia wanted to win greater acceptance for its palm oil in the global market, then the government had to change its mindset about how the local industry operates.“The global mindset on agricultural products has changed with a demand for green [products],” he said. “But Indonesia still adopts an old-school mindset. We are still proud of being the biggest exporter, but that’s not current.”He cited the example of Malaysia, the world’s No. 2 producer of palm oil, which has invested heavily in technologies and practices to boost productivity and improve sustainability.“What’s current is Malaysia with its sustainable palm oil,” Teguh said. “The moratorium policy should have as its goal Indonesia becoming the largest sustainable palm oil producer in the world.” Certification, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Environment, Forest Loss, Forests, Global Trade, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Palm Oil And Biodiversity, Rainforest Deforestation, Rspo, Sustainability, Threats To Rainforests, Trade, Tropical Deforestation, Tropical Forests center_img 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 overSponsoredlast_img read more