Blatter says failure to back reforms would be betrayal

first_imgBy Brian HomewoodOutgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter told his scandal-plagued federation’s 209 member associations that failure to support reform would amount to a betrayal of millions of football fans.Blatter’s comments came as FIFA’s executive committee began a two-day meeting where it was due to discuss a request to provide greater transparency around investigations into allegations of corruption.The committee also will be given an update on the second of two reform processes which have begun since FIFA was plunged into the worst crisis in its 111-year history in May.Football’s governing body has been in turmoil since 14 sports marketing executives and football officials, including several from FIFA, were indicted in the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.Seven of those accused were arrested by Swiss police in a dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel on May 27, two days before the FIFA Congress where Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term.As pressure mounted on FIFA, Blatter made a shock announcement in early June that he would step down at an extraordinary Congress which will take place on February 26 in Zurich.Last week, the problems took another twist when FIFA put Secretary-General Jerome Valcke on leave and requested a formal investigation into allegations against him. His duties have been taken over by his deputy Markus Kattner.“I expect all member associations to fully support this reform process at the Extraordinary Congress in February,” Blatter wrote in his weekly column in FIFA Weekly.“To fail to do so would represent a betrayal of our institution, of football and of the millions of fans around the world that rightly expect the highest standards from those managing the game.“Our goal must be to give FIFA, the institution, the opportunity to move forward next year and to build on the progress we have achieved in staging competitions and developing football around the world since 1904,” he added.“If we do not act now, we will be putting all of that work at risk.”Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, presented an eight-point plan at the last executive committee meeting in July, which he hoped would be approved and put to the extraordinary Congress in February.Instead, it was decided to set up a second reform committee under Francois Carrard, a Swiss lawyer and former director general of the International Olympic Committee, which met for the first time earlier this month.Allegations of corruption are investigated by FIFA’s ethics committee, which is only allowed to report its final decisions and cannot name people who are under investigation.Critics have regularly lambasted the in-house watchdog, and questioned its independence from the FIFA leadership, for refusing to give names and other data, even linked to well-known and widely reported cases.However, the ethics committee has said it is following the code of ethics, which it has asked to be changed, a request which is expected to be discussed under the item “approval of amendments to the FIFA code of ethics.”last_img read more

Vietnam pledges to investigate massive illegal logging violations as international pressure grows

first_imgForests, Illegal Logging, Illegal Timber Trade, logging roads, Rainforests, Tropical Forests 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 The report, released May 8 by the Environmental Investigation Agency, detailed how corrupt government officials in Vietnam are helping to funnel millions of dollars in illegal timber from Cambodia into Vietnam.Vietnam imports an average of 4.5 million cubic meters of roughly 150 different species of wood from over 100 countries.In the midst of an agreement with the EU to ensure the source of its timber is legal, Vietnam is now under tremendous scrutiny. HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – After several weeks of silence, the Vietnamese government announced that it is working to begin an investigation into allegations of widespread illegal logging in Cambodia directed by Vietnamese companies and provincial government officials.Earlier this month the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released a damning report which detailed mass-scale illegal logging in Cambodian national parks, as well as the importation of this unlicensed timber into Vietnam’s Central Highlands. In addition to the report, the organization has released an online library of documents in Vietnamese and satellite images detailing the smuggling operation.In the weeks immediately after the undercover investigation went public, little was done to rectify the situation. However several sources have shared with Mongabay that last week, Vietnam finally announced that it was looking into the issue. Phuc Xuan Tho, a program analyst at the international NGO Forest Trends, told Mongabay in an email that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) had informed him of the investigation, but did not provide details on its breadth or depth.Nguyen Van Ha, deputy director general of the Administration of Forestry under MARD, explained that the ministry has sent a report to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asking him to assign the organization to conduct a full investigation into the report’s allegations. Ha says they are still waiting for a response. Phuc is currently in the United States on an official visit to Washington D.C.Arevs in O’Tabok, Virachey National Park, Cambodia Feb 2017. Photo courtesy of EIA.Meanwhile Thanh Hoang, a program manager for the EU’s delegation to Vietnam, said that the illegal logging scandal was discussed at recent negotiations on clean timber between the EU and Vietnam in Brussels.“It is my understanding that this has been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, and he will decide how the investigation will proceed,” Hoang said in a phone call. “It is likely that the Ministry of Public Security would lead it while working with other ministries.”The reaction to the report, which was released on May 8, was especially slow from the Vietnamese side. Prior to the announcement of an investigation, Jago Wadley, senior campaigner at the London-based EIA, said he believed that the response from both the Vietnamese and Cambodia governments had been inadequate.“We have not received nor seen any response from the Vietnamese government,” he said via email. “We have heard mixed responses from Cambodian officials, who appear to be either still in denial or, where not in complete denial, still hedging their bets as to whether they will need to respond or not.”Meanwhile Say Sam Al, Cambodia’s environment minister, told the Cambodia Daily on May 15 that the government was investigating the information in the report, and had been looking into related allegations over the past year.“Some of the claims are new,” he told the paper, while declining to go into further detail. This raises questions of how Cambodian officials could have allowed for 300,000 cubic meters of timber to be illegally moved into Vietnam if they were already investigating such actions.Phuc, from Forest Trends, believes there may be a reason why it took so long for the Vietnamese side to respond.“The officials who are responsible for this issue [were] in Brussels for the FLEGT negotiations,” he said via Skype. “The heads of the various departments of the administration of forests [were] in Europe, so they [were] not in the position to respond to the report yet.” FLEGT refers to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade which houses the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which Vietnam and the European Union signed on May 11. Under this pact, Vietnam must ensure that all timber exports from the country are derived from legal sources.The EU reactionThe presence of Vietnamese officials in Brussels highlights the global importance of the nation’s wood processing industry, worth $7.3 billion in 2016, and the EIA’s evidence of illegal logging. The release of the report just days before representatives from both parties initialed the VPA placed pressure on the EU to respond.George Edgar, the EU ambassador to Cambodia, said they hope to see an investigation.“We strongly encourage the authorities of Cambodia and Vietnam to urgently investigate the reported illegal activities and take firm action against individuals and companies found to be involved in illegal logging, and to take steps to prevent any such activity in the future,” Edgar said in a statement sent to Mongabay.Representatives of the EU’s negotiating team in Vietnam couldn’t be reached for comment by publication.Some experts believe the agreement between Vietnam and the European bloc will place increased pressure on the former to clean up its act.Wadley, from the EIA, says the EU must maintain pressure on Vietnam to prevent future illegal logging.“It needs to stay firm in its goal of ensuring the FLEGT VPA negotiations and help Vietnam clean up its timber sector through fundamental legal reforms and enforcement,” he said.Decentralized border controlA major obstacle to outside pressure, however, is the central Vietnamese government’s lax control over certain activities of provincial governments.“The surge in timber exports from Cambodia into Vietnam over the last several months is not because the central government wants it,” Forest Trend’s Phuc explains. “It’s because of mechanisms opened up on the ground by local authorities in the Central Highlands.”The route of illegal timber from forests in Cambodia to the Vietnamese port city of Quy Nhon, a major wood processing center, via EIA.According to the EIA’s report, the leadership of Gia Lai province has directed and legalized the timber smuggling operation through auxiliary border crossings. Phuc explains, “The power for controlling these border crossings as stated in the law is with local authorities.”Therefore officials in Gia Lai, or any province with secondary border crossings, can use them as they please without seeking permission from Hanoi.“If the central government cannot control that power, then there may be abuse of that power at the local level,” Phuc says. “Obviously in the case of Gia Lai this highlights the problem.”In April, before the release of the EIA report, several officials from the central government visited Gia Lai to warn of the danger of loose border control. Lao Dong, one of Vietnam’s national newspapers, reported on April 13 that Phan Dinh Trac, head of the Central Party Department of Internal Affairs, expressed concern that Gia Lai’s policy of allowing for the import of 300,000 cubic meters of timber would negatively affect border security.Nonetheless, as evidenced by EIA the importation of illegal timber has continued apace.Moving forwardFragmented government oversight is just one challenge facing Vietnam’s wood processing industry and its international customers. Another huge obstacle, according to Phuc, is the wide variety of sources which provide Vietnam with its timber.Since a blanket ban on logging natural forests within Vietnam is in place, wood processors must look elsewhere for supplies. Phuc explains that Vietnam imports an average of 4.5 million cubic meters of roughly 150 different species of wood from over 100 countries. Controlling such a varied import process is extremely difficult.“Under the VPA a mechanism for controlling timber imports will be developed, but we can see how challenging that is on the ground with such a huge volume of timber imported and the huge number of species and sources,” he said.Australia provides a good case study of the difficulty associated with imported wood products from Vietnam. According to ABC, Australia imported $225 million worth of timber products from the Southeast Asian nation.In February the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources reported that only 35 percent of the 512 largest importers in the country complied with due diligence requirements, and only 8 percent of furniture imports came from certified timber.A sign directs logging trucks to timber depots set up along the Vietnamese border with Cambodia. Photo courtesy of EIA.“It will take time,” Phuc said of verifying the source of timber coming from Vietnam. “I’m not saying it (the VPA mechanism) won’t be innovative, but it will take time for the government and it will be very challenging to do, at least in the short-term.”The Vietnamese government has set a goal of creating clean timber certificates for wood manufacturers by 2021, but Phuc is doubtful that they will meet this deadline. Wood processors in the country will only be able to receive FLEGT licenses once both the EU and Vietnam agree on the strength of the new timber legality assurance system.Indeed, the official press release on the signing notes this will be challenging. “The process of VPA implementation…is likely to take some years,” the release reads. “Until then, timber products exported from Vietnam to the EU face the normal due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits operators from placing illegally-harvested timber from any country on the EU market.”The Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT) recently asked in an editorial whether it was time for an international boycott of wood products produced in Vietnam.Banner image: A sign directs logging trucks to timber depots set up along the Vietnamese border with Cambodia. Photo courtesy of EIA.Michael Tatarski is a freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You can find him on Twitter at @miketatarski.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 Article published by Genevieve Belmakerlast_img read more

Will banning trade in fins help endangered sharks? Some experts say no

first_imgEditor’s note 7/25/17: The original title of this story has been modified. Also, the original version of this story incorrectly listed the countries where shark researchers surveyed for a Conservation Biology paper were based. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017, introduced before Congress on March 9, would terminate the possession and trade of shark fins in all 50 U.S. states and 16 territories.Activists and advocacy groups often cheer these bans as a way to protect sharks. Internationally about 70 of the planet’s 400-plus shark species now face extinction, often due to overfishing..However, some experts argue that better tracking to determine whether imported fins were caught sustainably, followed by trade restrictions on those that weren’t, represent the best steps toward saving threatened shark species.Some go so far as to argue that a U.S. trade ban may do more harm than good, by crushing a domestic industry that exports sustainably caught fins to markets in Asia and allowing less-sustainable fisheries to take up the slack. Dave Ebert pulls up an image on his computer screen. The object in the picture is shaped like an oversize arrowhead, thin, yellowish, and fraying at its edges. It’s a dried shark fin, the key ingredient in the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup. Border officials confiscated it from someone entering the U.S.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Office of Law Enforcement in Burlingame, California, sent the image to Ebert to identify exactly what species of shark the fin came from. If Ebert determines that it belonged to a species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an agreement to ensure that international trade of certain species doesn’t threaten their survival, the FWS will consider law enforcement action against the fin’s owner.Ebert heads the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Moss Landing, California. Many of the fins he identifies for law enforcement officials belong to species that are threatened with extinction and illegal to trade under CITES. Ebert has visited South African villages where people desperate to make a living sell fins to buyers from Hong Kong. And he’s seen fins pop up in Sri Lankan markets from shark species that were unknown to science.“It’s maddening to see something show up in the fish market,” Ebert told Mongabay. “We’re like ‘Holy! We don’t even know what this thing is!’”Dried shark fins confiscated at the U.S. border. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Ebert knows how hard it is to police this international trade, in hopes that fins that end up in restaurant kitchens have been sustainably fished. Yet he and many other shark conservation experts are skeptical about a bill before Congress, called the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017. Congressmen Ed Royce (a Republican from California) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (an Independent from the Northern Mariana Islands) introduced the bill on March 9.“There’s a lot more concern and consciousness here,” Ebert said of the U.S. “In the U.S., we’re actually pretty good at enforcing laws in terms of finning, whereas in the rest of the world not so much.” He believes that the elimination of the U.S. fin market would have little effect on shark conservation worldwide. The U.S. exports an average of 171 metric tons of fins valued at $3.4 million annually — just 1 percent of the global volume of fins traded — according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).If the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act passes, it would terminate the possession and trade of shark fins in all 50 U.S. states and 16 territories. Already 11 states, including California, and three territories have bans in place.Activists and advocacy groups often cheer these bans. However, many experts say that they are not the best way to help overfished shark populations recover or to stop finning-at-sea, a practice where fishers cut off a shark’s fins and throw the rest of its body overboard, often still alive but doomed. Instead, experts argue that better tracking to determine whether fins come from a stable population and whether the sharks were finned or caught whole, followed by trade restrictions on unsustainably caught fins, represent the best steps toward saving threatened shark species. Some go so far as to argue that a U.S. trade ban may do more harm than good, by crushing a domestic industry that exports sustainably caught fins to markets in Asia and allowing less-sustainable fisheries to take up the slack.In February 2016, the journal Conservation Biology published a study reporting survey responses from 102 shark researchers, mainly from the U.S., Australia, and Canada. The survey asked whether the researchers supported a range of 11 different international policies, including fishing quotas, bans on finning-at-sea, listing species on CITES, and banning the trade in shark fins. Banning the fin trade, though supported by about 60 percent of the researchers, was the second least-popular option. By contrast, more than 90 percent backed the idea of sustainable fishing using strict catch quotas, the most popular choice.“Full utilization of sharks taken in sustainable fisheries would logically require that some of the fins get used,” one of the scientists wrote in the survey. Another added: “A nationwide ban on shark fishing is unwarranted. There are populations that are capable of supporting a sustainable fishery.”U.S. shark fisheries are already heavily regulated to protect species that, as top predators, are vital to the health of marine ecosystems. In 1993, the federal government started limiting the species and number of sharks caught. Since then, regulations have become more stringent. In 2000, officials banned shark finning in U.S. waters due to ethical and environmental concerns. Sharks are typically slow to mature and produce few offspring, making it hard to know whether the regulations have helped. However, recently some coastal shark populations have shown signs of recovery. A study published in the journal Fish and Fisheries in February found that most formerly over-exploited shark species along the U.S. east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico were on the rise, following the implementation of careful management in the 1990s.A tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) sneezes in the Bahamas. Tiger sharks are fished for sport and commercially for their fins, liver oil, skin, and other products. While still common, the species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN because overfishing could put these sharks in danger. Photo by Nicodemo Ientile.Banning the fin tradeStill, about 70 of the planet’s 400-plus shark species — including those targeted for their fins — now face extinction. In the U.S., fins bought and sold at ports also come from international fisheries, which may lack protections to prevent finning-at-sea or overfishing. Advocates cite this as a reason for a total ban on the shark fin trade.“The best way to get out of that situation is just to end the fin trade entirely,” Mariah Pfleger, a marine scientist with the conservation nonprofit Oceana, told Mongabay. In June 2016, Oceana backed a bill similar to the current one. It didn’t pass. This year, Oceana is rallying the public to push for The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. The nonprofit argues that current regulations are insufficient.Former Democratic California State Assembly member Paul Fong feels the same way. He co-sponsored the bill that initiated the statewide ban in California in 2013. At the time, 78 percent of the state’s citizens, including 70 percent of the Chinese population, supported Fong’s bill.Fong is deeply bothered that, despite California’s ban, about 60 tons of fins — more than 90 percent of the total entering the country, Oceana estimates — still enter the Port of Los Angeles annually, destined for states where no ban is in place. He argues that efforts by NOAA and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to track the import and export of shark fins and to determine whether fins come from countries with sustainable shark management are not enough.“It’s too difficult to track. It’s impossible, actually. You have to do DNA samples on the shark fins, too, and it’s too expensive to make that possible,” Fong told Mongabay. “You want to save the ones that are endangered, of course. But they all become endangered eventually.”The two agencies currently don’t even seem to agree on how many shark fins are entering and leaving the U.S. each year. In a 2015 technical paper, the FAO compared its own import and export statistics with NOAA’s and found some inconsistencies. Notably, when the FAO added up shark fin exports declared by other countries as destined for the U.S., exports were seven times greater than the imports reported by U.S. officials. Oceana, in its 2016 report Shark Fin Trade: Why it Should Be Banned in the United States, used this discrepancy to argue that U.S. shark fin imports and exports are “much greater” than NOAA reports, and that this exacerbates the need for a fin ban.The root of some reporting discrepancies is inconsistent labeling of shark products, according to Lindsay Davidson, a doctoral candidate in marine biology who focuses on the sustainability of shark fisheries at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. A package labeled “sharks” might contain fins, meat, or oil, she wrote in an email. “The current system does not allow for accurate tracking of fin, meat, or other product trade between countries.”Rickey Tome, a wildlife inspector with FWS’s Burlingame Office of Law Enforcement, agrees. He pointed out that fins from rays and skates, both close cousins to sharks, are also labeled “shark fins.”That leads some biologists to think that a trade ban might be necessary, at least as a temporary fix. “It’s not a solution, but it might be a Band-Aid,” said Neil Hammerschlag, a marine ecologist and director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami, who co-authored the survey of shark experts. A nationwide ban might give vulnerable populations of sharks time to recover while sustainable fishing practices could be implemented abroad, ultimately rendering the ban unnecessary, he said.Shark fins hang in a market in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2006. Photo by Hector Garcia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).Improving trackingMany shark biologists do not support a trade ban, however. They argue that NOAA could do much more to control the import of unsustainably harvested fins if it acted on existing regulations.NOAA is required to certify whether nations are compliant with standards set in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, for instance by prohibiting finning-at-sea in international waters. With presidential approval, federal officials can restrict imports from countries listed as noncompliant. (It’s debatable how likely that would be under President Trump, whose administration recently reversed a ruling intended to prevent the overfishing of flounder on the U.S. east coast.) However, in its 2015 and 2017 biennial reports, NMFS declined to identify any nation as noncompliant, citing a lack of data on shark catches.“Basically their system certified almost every nation as compliant. We all know that’s a joke,” said Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, and a member of NMFS’s Advisory Panel for Highly Migratory Species. If NOAA got “serious,” Hueter said, the U.S. could reduce its import of illegal and unsustainable fins.Hueter opposes a nationwide ban on the possession and trade of fins. In an April letter to Florida’s Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo, who co-sponsored the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (also called H.R. 1456), Hueter argued the bill would unfairly punish American commercial fishermen. In abiding by strict shark fishing regulations, these fishers hunt sharks not just for their fins but also for their meat, skin, liver oil, and cartilage. “H.R. 1456 is not about ending finning, but instead will cause the demise of a legal domestic industry that is showing the rest of the world how to utilize sharks in a responsible, sustainable way,” Hueter wrote.According to Russell “Rusty” Hudson, a consultant whose Daytona Beach, Florida-based company, Directed Sustainable Fisheries, Inc., represents most American shark fishermen, the bill would force his clients to throw fins, the source of about half their profits, overboard.“The ecosystem is important and must be protected, though we can sustainably harvest needed food sources for human beings also,” Hudson wrote in an email. “We should have the privilege to exist as an accountable, sustainable fishery, and not be put out of business by a misinformation campaign.”Banning the U.S. trade in shark fins could also unintentionally increase finning-at-sea and unsustainable catches overseas, Hueter said. By taking U.S-caught shark fins off the international market, H.R. 1456 would increase the market for countries not practicing legal and sustainable shark fishing, he contended. “It will therefore punish the good people — American fishermen — and reward the bad people, the foreign fleets practicing finning and illegal, unreported and/or unsustainable fishing.”A great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) in the Bahamas. The species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN as a result of being targeted by the fin trade and caught as bycatch by other fisheries. Photo by Nicodemo Ientile.Davidson agrees. The U.S. is a global source for sustainably caught fins, albeit just 1 percent of the total volume traded. Advocacy groups and politicians are “well-intentioned,” she said, but there are more options than a blanket ban. “There is a general idea that bans are the only conservation tool for a fished species. However, there are many global examples of sharks being fished sustainably.”In California, Ebert sees an example close to home. On the West Coast, a species called the thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) is thriving, he said, thanks to decades of well-managed fishing practices like catch limits, which allow a fisherman to catch only two per day.“If guys can make a little money on the fins rather than discarding them,” Ebert said, “then why not?”The House Committee on Natural Resources is currently considering the bill, its fate uncertain. But whether it passes or fails, the urgency to protect sharks makes it likely that the debate about bans will continue.A thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus). The species is doing well off the Pacific coast of North America. Photo by Thomas Alexander via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).CitationsDent, F., & Clarke, S. (2015). State of the global market for shark products. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper, 590.Peterson, C.D., Belcher, C.N., Bethea, D.M., Driggers, W.B., Frazier, B.S., & Latour, R.J. (2017). Preliminary recovery of coastal sharks in the south‐east United States. Fish and Fisheries 00:1–15.Shiffman, D.S. & Hammerschlag, N. (2016). Preferred conservation policies of shark researchers. Conservation Biology 30: 805–815.A tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) in the Bahamas. Photo by Bethany Augliere. 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 overSponsoredcenter_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Policy, Fish, Fishing, Green, Illegal Fishing, Marine, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Oceans, Overfishing, Sharks Article published by Rebecca Kesslerlast_img read more

Andes dams could threaten food security for millions in Amazon basin

first_imgMore than 275 hydroelectric projects are planned for the Amazon basin, the majority of which could be constructed in the Andes whose rivers supply over 90 percent of the basin’s sediments and over half its nutrients.A new study projects huge environmental costs for six of these dams, which together will retain 900 million tons of river sediment annually, reducing supplies of phosphorus and nitrogen, and threatening fish populations and soil quality downstream.Accumulating sediments upstream of dams are projected to release 10 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, significantly contributing to global warming, and would contaminate waters and the aquatic life they support with mercury.The construction of these dams should be reconsidered to preserve food security and the livelihoods of millions of people in the Amazon Basin. The Marañón River in Peru and site of the proposed Pongo de Manseriche dam, which researchers say would be so catastrophically harmful to the environment that it should not be built. Photo by Rocky Contos, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licenseThe Amazon and its tributaries are slated for intense hydroelectric development, aimed at supplying electricity to South America’s 400 million residents and for energy-intensive industries such as mining and smelting. But environmental groups and scientists have raised serious concerns over the huge impact of such dams, built within one of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on Earth.More than 275 dams are currently planned for the Amazon River basin, with most proposed for the Andes Mountains, where steep gorges allow for deep storage reservoirs. But in a paper published in PLoS ONE this August, the Amazon Waters Initiative expert working group predicted that these Andean dams could have severe environmental impacts downstream, affecting the entire Amazon basin, and threatening the livelihoods, diet and health of millions of people.The international research team combined historical data from Amazonian rivers with mechanistic models to predict the impact of six mega-dams currently proposed or under development in the Andes: four in Peru, the Pongo de Manseriche dam on the Marañón River, the Inambari dam on the Inambari River, TAM 40 on the Ucayali River, and Pongo de Aguirre on the Huallaga River; plus two mega-dams in Bolivia, Agosto del Bala on the Beni River, and Rositas on the Grande River.Together, these six dams have an expected generating capacity greater than ten gigawatts of electricity. The six are of particular concern because they’re the largest and farthest downstream of any big dams planned for major Andean tributaries.Scientists looked at potential impacts above and below the planned dams, “including reductions in downstream sediment and nutrient supplies, changes in downstream flood pulse, changes in upstream and downstream fish yields, reservoir siltation, greenhouse gas emissions and mercury contamination.”They found that these dams will, if constructed, dramatically reduce sediment transport throughout the Amazon watershed, putting the food security of millions of people at risk.“The environmental impacts of these six dams are so large, multidimensional, and far reaching that their construction cannot be justified,” says lead-author Bruce Forsberg, senior researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus.In addition, dam construction will have immediate effects on the local environment, flooding forests upstream and dramatically reducing river levels downstream, while displacing indigenous and traditional communities.Map of the Amazon basin, showing the locations of the six proposed dams. Fig 1. In Forsberg et al. (2017), licensed under a CC By 4.0 licenseSediment flowAlthough the Andean Highlands of Peru and Bolivia occupy just 11 percent of the Amazon’s total area, they provide 93 percent of the sediment supplied to the Amazon basin. These critically important sediments carry nutrients vital for aquatic plants and plankton, supplying the bottom-rung of the river food chain as well as fertilizing and replenishing downstream soils during flood season.The research team calculated that the six new dams would hold back nearly 900 million tons of river sediment annually, preventing them being carried to the flood plains of the Amazon basin and delta.“The expected reduction of sediment and nutrients beyond the dam sites would be catastrophic for the region’s wildlife as well as countless communities that rely on the river for their agricultural needs,” said Forsberg in a statement.The new study estimated that the planned dams would cause the Amazon basin to lose 64 percent of its total sediment supply, while also seeing a 51 percent decrease in phosphorus and a 23 percent decrease in nitrogen. Such a massive sediment and nutrient deficit could have profound impacts on downriver ecosystems and human communities.Phosphorus feeds microscopic aquatic plants called phytoplankton, the primary food source for 40 percent of commercially caught fish in the Amazon basin. Nitrogen is a major component in farm and garden fertilizers, and natural nitrogen transport by the Amazon River and its tributaries is crucial for the vast region’s soil fertility. The dams, say the researchers, are therefore likely to reduce basin and delta fishing yields and increase reliance on chemical fertilizers, both putting food security at risk.These forecasts aren’t only theoretical. In the case of the Tucurui dam on Brazil’s Tocantins River, a reduced nutrient supply was linked to the collapse of the commercial mapará catfish (Hypophthalmus spp.) fishery. Other fisheries on the river experienced up to 70 percent declines in productivity since the dam was built.Montane rainforest in Cordillera Azul National Park near the Ucayali River. Forests, biodiversity and local communities can be severely impacted by mega-dams due to reservoir inundation. Photo by A. Del Campo, CC BY 3.0Dulling the living pulse of the AmazonVital sediments and nutrients will not only be blocked behind dams, the new impoundments and dams will control and curtail the Amazon basin’s natural river flow, preventing the annual flooding regimes that support a dynamic mosaic of ecosystems in waterways and across the Amazon basin floodplains.Whereas seasonal changes in rainfall in the Andes currently drive flooding in the basin, the flow of water through dams would be carefully managed, reducing the gigantic flood pulses that have been seen for millennia, putting ecosystems that are modulated by wet and dry seasons under threat.None of the six proposed dams have published flow management schemes, so Forsberg and his colleagues instead estimated floodplain impacts based on hydrodynamics recorded historically at the existing Balbina and Tucurui dams. These big Brazilian dams substantially reduce the annual variation in water levels in the Uatumã and Tocantins floodplains, and similar impacts can be expected from the six proposed Andes dams.Thus in downstream areas that previously experienced periodic seasonal flooding, low-lying terrain may be permanently inundated and upland areas permanently dry. This could have dramatic repercussions on commercial fisheries, ending the genetic mixing that occurs when Amazon streams overflow and merge in flood times, allowing fish to mate. These populations, thanks to the dams, will never have a chance to meet, thus likely reducing genetic diversity and resilience.Peru’s Madre de Dios River, site of the proposed Inambari dam. The dam is so controversial that it has been put on hold for now, though plans to revive it keep being put forward. Photo by International Rivers, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licenseToxic watersThe potential negative impacts enumerated by the study aren’t limited to downstream human communities and ecosystems — the proposed dams would have severe upstream effects as well.The new reservoir drowns vegetation on the old riverbanks, which release large quantities of greenhouse gases when they die. The decomposing plants starve the water of oxygen, favoring the growth of microbes that convert naturally found mercury in the water into methylmercury, a toxic substance that accumulates in fish and other aquatic organisms, ultimately working its way up the food chain onto the plates of local people. Dams already built in the Amazon are known to contain higher levels of methylmercury in their reservoirs.The reservoirs not only produce methylmercury microbally, but also accumulate it as a waste product from upstream illegal gold mining operations. The seriousness of this health problem becomes evident when one considers the huge amount of fish Amazon basin residents consume, in a region where a kilo of beef can cost between $15-20 reals, while a kilo of mapará, a popular commercial fish, sells for a mere $3 reals or can be caught for free in the local reservoir or river.The methylmercury risk is compounded by the fact that vast quantities of nutrients held in the sediments trapped behind dams can also fuel exploding fish populations, so that new fisheries often spring up within and near nutrient-rich dam reservoirs in the tropics. However, local people are often unaware of the methylmercury risk, and bio-accumulation in the human body is slow, so severe health impacts from mercury poisoning may not show up for years, after it is too late.The Tucurui Dam, on Brazil’s Tocantins River, where reduced nutrient supply caused by the dam was linked to the collapse of the commercial mapará catfish (Hypophthalmus spp.) fishery. Other fisheries on the river experienced up to 70 percent declines in productivity since the dam was built. Photo by International Rivers, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licenseReservoirs emit greenhouse gasesAlthough hydroelectricity is often presented by dam proponents as a clean energy source, it is now understood to produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, hydroelectric reservoirs are associated with 1.3 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Tropical reservoirs in particular emit very high levels because rotting vegetation and nutrient-rich waters fuel algal blooms and methane-producing microbes. Methane is some 25 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas.For four of the proposed dams where data was available, Forsberg and colleagues estimated average daily emissions of 2,890 milligrams of carbon over their first thirty years of life. The worst of the dams evaluated was Peru’s Manseriche Dam, projected to release carbon into the atmosphere at rates similar to an oil-fired power plant.“The study represents an ecosystem wakeup call for both developers and ecologists to work together across national borders to find solutions that mitigate infrastructure and its potential large-scale impacts at scales unimaginable several decades ago,” said Michael Goulding, senior aquatic scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and study co-author.As more evidence accumulates regarding the negative effects of dams on people, animals, plants and the atmosphere, attitudes towards hydroelectric power seem to be changing, noted the scientists.Local opposition to many of the planned Andes dams has been intense, and work on the Inambari Dam stalled in 2011 because of protests, though there have been attempts to revive it since then. Last October, the head of the Ministry of Energy and Mines in Peru, Gonzalo Tamayo, announced that the construction of large hydropower plants in the Amazon jungle is not on their current agenda, but no dams have been officially ruled out, and plans for dam construction may resume if Peru’s energy surplus runs out in the next decade, as forecast.Peruvian protests against the Inambari dam. Photo by International Rivers, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licenseAlternative energy sourcesAlternative dam designs or relocation may mitigate the impacts of some of the six proposed dams, but not all, say the researchers. The Manseriche Dam, they conclude, would be so environmentally damaging that it should not go ahead in any form, and an alternative energy source should be pursued instead.“Switching to alternative energy sources like wind and solar is now economically viable and would cause much less impact,” says Forsberg.The new study is just one of many demonstrating that the true economic, social and environmental costs of hydroelectric power in the Andes headwaters and Amazon basin may be too high, no matter the immense energy-generating capacity of such projects.However, the jury is still out as to whether Latin American governments — which have a long history of supporting Amazon mega-dams — will be willing to listen to scientists and shift their priorities from hydropower to alternative energy sources.Citation:Forsberg, B. R., Melack, J. M., Dunne, T., Barthem, R. B., Goulding, M., Paiva, R. C., … & Weisser, S. (2017). The potential impact of new Andean dams on Amazon fluvial ecosystems. PloS one, 12(8), e0182254.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.Submerged vegetation in the reservoir of Brazil’s Balbina dam. Tropical reservoirs emit large amounts of greenhouse gases because rotting vegetation and nutrient-rich waters fuel algal blooms and methane-producing microbes. Methane is some 25 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas. Photo by Seabirds licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license 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 Agriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon Mining, Amazon People, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Biodiversity Hotspots, China And Energy, Climate Change and Dams, Controversial, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, electricity, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, environmental justice, Environmental Politics, Featured, Flooding, Food, Food Crisis, food security, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forests, Green, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Infrastructure, Land Conflict, Land Use Change, Mining, Monitoring, Nutrient Pollution, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforest Mining, Rainforests, Rivers, satellite data, Saving The Amazon, Sedimentation, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Deforestation center_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

The uncertain future of Bogotá’s shantytowns

first_imgFeatured, Forests, Tropical Forests, Urban Planning, Urbanization Article published by Genevieve Belmaker Colombia’s massive population of internally displaced is second only to Syria, and thousands fleeing violence make homes in the forests outside of cities.Outside of Colombia’s capital of Bogotá, thousands live in groups of makeshift homes that form a range of communities from villages to shanytowns.The shanytowns present worsening health and public safety problems, and have a devastating impact on the forests where communities are established and growing. BOGOTA, Colombia – Up here amidst the clouds and on the spine of the Andean mountain range, it’s hard to believe that San German is situated on the outskirts of Colombia’s booming metropolis of Bogotá. The shantytown is nestled between three marshlands, a messy constellation of homes improvised from plywood, tarpaulin sheets, and brick. There is an almost permanent dampness in San German, caused by the high altitude, and a cold wind whistles through its homes.Speaking recently above the din of a noisy rain smacking down on his home’s tin roof, San German’s twenty-six year-old community leader, Arley Estupiñán, argues that the settlement is a result of politics. Estupiñán says places like San German owe their existence to an unwillingness by Colombia’s politicians to house vulnerable and destitute citizens who migrate to the capital.“That is why we end up living here in these conditions, and yet [the government] still wants to kick us out,” he said. Estupiñán is the spokesperson for the growing population of San German, and his goal is to get it recognized as a legitimate neighborhood. There are no official estimates, but Arley puts the number at 300 or so families living there. At the moment the shantytown is in limbo, deemed an illegal squat by the Bogotá mayor‘s office because it lies within the boundaries of a national park, called Entrenubes (literally, “between the clouds”).In the meantime, the community is working with a nonprofit legal group seeking to help San German obtain a legal title.Estupiñán, a musician and barber by trade, came to Bogotá from the coastal city of Buenaventura with his partner, Esmeralda, in 2014. They fled the surging violence of paramilitary drug gangs there. Paramilitaries are latter-day state-backed militias that formed in the 1980s, many of which turned to narco-trafficking when they were disarmed in the late 2000s. The couple arrived in Bogotá “with nothing but the clothes on their back and 10,000 pesos” (US$ 3), he recalls ruefully.He claims that after trying and failing to obtain shelter from the government – which is legally responsible for the resettlement of Colombian citizens displaced by the conflict – they ended up in San German, where they were told by friends they could carve out a place for their family.“Everything you see here, we built with our bare hands,” he says, proudly. His house is made of plywood, corrugated plastic and tin, and sits on a muddy bluff at the outer edge of the settlement.Arley Estupiñan points out towards social housing project, known as “Rincón de Bolonia” downhill from San German. Because of a quirk in Colombia’s welfare system, the most poor cannot access government benefits or social housing. Photo by Ana Cristina Vallejo with permission.Historically, people move to capital cities for myriad reasons, largely because of economic need. But the story of Bogotá’s internal migrants can’t be explained without reference to Colombia’s bloody 53-year civil war, which ended in a treaty last year, but which killed over a quarter of a million people and displaced six million more over the last five decades. Today, Colombia is second only to Syria in the number of people internally displaced by war.A huge proportion of Colombia’s displaced people have come to the capital seeking sanctuary, but many of them end up in shantytowns like San German, many of which also spill over into the city’s surrounding mosaic of national parks, which in turn threatens the area’s unique forests and marshlands.A large number of these shantytowns are built on hillsides, which also puts them at risk from landslides, a phenomenon that has been exacerbated by the effects climate change and by forest loss.Legal enforcementThe situation with housing and shantytowns has also created a lawless frontier within the city where criminal gangs take advantage of the state’s absence by forging land deeds, bribing authorities, and extorting money from residents. Bogotá’s mayor’s office has said it is addressing the problem; but it faces fierce criticism and resistance from locals.Estupiñán acknowledges that San German has grown “a lot,” hinting strongly that it has become a problem that he and the other leaders of the community can’t control. When he arrived three years ago, he said, there were fourteen houses; there are now close to three hundred.As a result, the mountainside is quickly being eaten up by human settlement, and there are remaining few trees in sight. A landscape of rudely-built concrete houses and flickering lights fills the vista, and it is impossible to discern which of these may or may not be “legal” homes.Bogotá is situated in a fertile highland basin, and was originally part of the Muisca civilizations’ capital until the Spanish conquered it in 1538. Sitting at nearly nine thousand feet above sea level and located three hundred miles from the nearest coastline, it was an odd place to set up a colonial capital – were it not for the abundance of Muisca gold (the legend of El Dorado is attributed to the Muisca).Since 1950 Bogotá has since transformed from a modestly-sized city of 700,000 into a global megacity, with a current population of 10 million.Sprawling citiesManaging population growth has been a concern for urban societies since they first began around 10,000 years ago, but only since the recent advent of biological annihilation caused by climate change, has it become a truly transnational issue. The global population explosion and shift from a predominantly rural to an urban dwelling world beginning in the mid-twentieth century has brought land conflict – a problem long associated with the countryside – to the city.According to urban scholar Mike Davis, the world contained 86 cities with populations of over 1 million people in 1950, but by 2015, the number had risen to 550.The problem with this trend, he argues, is that the majority of that growth is happening in the developing world, where an estimated 78 per cent of the urban population live in sprawling shantytowns like San German. They are also often in zones that are not safe for human habitation.Members of the community work together to install light posts. Photo by Ana Cristina Vallejo with permission.Another danger with this global pattern is the damage that these settlements cause to the surrounding natural habitat, a dilemma that San German is visibly struggling with. But without any legal status or basic provisions from the government, there is little its residents can do to remedy the environmental impacts caused by their presence, argues Estupiñán.Bogotá is currently reeling with problems related to housing and environmental management – two issues amplified by the mounting effects of climate change, which is making more extreme weather patterns and increasing the frequency of landslides. There are over 20,000 illegal settlements in the city, according to a report in the influential weekly magazine Semana. These vary in size from shantytowns like San German with 300 or so families, to smaller settlements of pioneer families. Many of these shantytowns are either situated in national parks or on hilly terrain where landslides are a risk.Over 2,000 illegal settlements were identified this year within Usme alone, the district in which San German is located, covering over one thousands acres of land. The authorities have identified ten gangs that control Bogotá’s illegal land takeover schemes, according to Semana.Heavy-handed approachBogotá’s current mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, has promised to tackle the criminal gangs that monopolize properties and run protection rackets and drug-trafficking in Bogotá’s poorer barrios. In a show of force last year, the national police raided an infamous gang-controlled neighborhood known as the “Bronx,” which had become synonymous with Bogotá’s crack epidemic, gang violence, and prostitution. The raid was effective in clearing up the quarter, but critics say that it merely dispersed the Bronx’s criminal activity and didn’t solve the city’s underlying social problems.In San German, the government’s approach has been similarly heavy-handed. On October 6, 2016, a police force of 500 accompanied by helicopters and news crews came to forcibly evict and arrest residents of San German. They had been tipped off by local authorities that the settlement was invading Entrenubes Park and also that tierreros – “urban land pirates” – were imposing a kind of “sharia law” within the community, threatening its residents with amputations less they paid them rent.Six people were arrested that day, and since then the police have continued to carry out patrols. The police have also threatened residents and destroyed some newly-built homes, according to several San German residents.Kids play on an abandoned car as the sun sets over San German. Photo by Ana Cristina Vallejo with permission.Estupiñán shrugs off the stories about tierreros as a ludicrous fabrication and defamation attempt. He claims that it is part of a wider strategy by authorities to dislodge the community without resettling them as part of a scheme to make way for lucrative development projects there instead.The mayor has also promised a sweeping “legalization” and resettlement initiative for many of the most affected districts in the city. But many of those that fall within or near national parks, like San German, remain in limbo.Estupiñán says that San German was on the verge of receiving legal status during the tenure of Bogotá’s last mayor, and was to have been incorporated into a “green barrio” scheme that aimed at tackling poverty and addressing the effects of climate change, but both measures were stalled when the city administration changed hands. Under a green barrio scheme, houses are built with sustainable materials, and waste is managed.Resistance to changeThere are other problems related to these informal communities. Seven watersheds in Entrenubes Park feed the Bogotá River, making it an extremely vulnerable ecosystem given its proximity to human settlements that have no sanitation, irrigation or waste management.Colombia’s environment ministry claims that San German is a threat to law and order and is damaging Entrenubes Park, which is 622 hectares in size. According to the ministry, 55 percent of the park was lost to illegal settlements between 1989-1999, which is why it was expanded in 2000 – so as to recuperate the land that was lost and to rejuvenate its ecosystem.But San German’s residents want to stay, and want to revive their petition to become a green barrio. The community leaders believe that while the district authority denies their claim to legality, it is making back-door deals with realty development companies to build on the land they currently occupy.Marly Natalia Guaraca is 16 year-old single mother who was displaced by the FARC from Caquetá with her family. They now live in San German. Photo by Ana Cristina Vallejo with permission.In a detailed report on San German published by the digital news outlet imaginabogota.com last year, the author found that a Bogotá-based company had been advertising upcoming apartments in Entrenubes Park, seeming to confirm such suspicions.Looking down from San German, new apartment complexes pepper the hillside.But there are other concerns for San German that surpass the current dispute. As the population swells, the social equilibrium that was previously maintained by the community is becoming distorted. More and more newcomers are arriving with false land claims, and drugs are also becoming an issue, says Estupiñán.“There are also paramilitaries in the area, that is a fact,” he adds. Estupiñan says that has also experienced assassination attempts, which he suspects have come from corrupt authorities who have business interests in mind. In such ways, Estupiñán acknowledges that the community is facing a complex series of problems.For better or worse, San German is no longer a place that can be dismissed.“Now that the community has grown so big the authorities can’t just pick us off or ignore us anymore,” said Hermes Alberto, a 62-year old local who arrived when San German consisted of a handful of houses surrounded by scrubland. “They have to deal with us now.”Banner image: Arley Estupiñan walks towards his house at night. Photo by Ana Cristina Vallejo with permission.Maximo Anderson is a freelance journalist and photographer currently based in Colombia. You can find him on Twitter at @MaximoLamar.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

Parking meters… Perhaps a little before their time?

first_imgNone of us can deny the severity of the congestion problem in Georgetown and it is only fair that citizens consider the need for action to appease the situation and the Governments’ effort in doing so.The introduction of parking meters is indeed a valid move forward in these efforts to reduce traffic and generate some much needed revenue, and has obviously been successful in many other countries around the world. However, there are too many other developments needed before Guyana can sit behind the argument that they work in neighbouring Caribbean countries and the rest of the world.In cities where there are parking restrictions to ensure regulated turnover of parking spaces, there are usually alternative parking solutions for long stay car parks to cater for those working full days or long shifts. Wages elsewhere can allow parking costs to be factored into weekly outgoings, but here in Guyana, when we consider the average wage, the cost of parking under present conditions would eat such a huge chunk out of the salary there would be little point in going to work in the first place.In effect, what we will be experiencing is that after working hard and saving to own a car for the convenience of ourselves and our families, we will be forced to leave that convenience at home. What effect will that have on the motivation of our young people aspiring to provide themselves with a better lifestyle?In these other countries, people have access to safe, reliable, public transport that runs mostly to schedule and allows you to arrive at work on time and reach home at a reasonable hour afterwards. We are all too aware of the dangers of travelling in public transport here in Guyana and also of the irregularity of arrival times.Taking taxis will no doubt be the only solution for many but those costs will also bear much weight on the average earner. A trip from work to home and back will already be a financial strain, add to that a school pick up or a lunch time shopping trip and it will rack up costs higher than the parking. Taxis themselves are now under pressure to park in strategic spots around the city to be available for those leaving there cars home. Maybe the introduction of more taxi ranks should have been on the agenda before the parking solutions discussions.The arduous waiting when we go into the bank, to pay a phone bill or buy something from a store means we will be forced to overpay to be secure in the knowledge we will not have to abandon our spot in the queue after an hour to re-feed the meter. Let’s be realistic, how much business or shopping can we take care of in 15 minutes, or even half an hour? The real deal here is that money can be made on those who fail to adhere to the time restriction; those stuck in queues!There are many areas that have to be developed in order for the parking meters to be a viable option. This is an inevitable part of the development of Georgetown but it has come out of sequence and unless stringent concessions are made, there will no doubt be severe detrimental effects to businesses, education, and morale. Thankfully, talks are underway and the company responsible has solutions in place for those members of society who should be entitled to concessions and they seem open to further talks to iron out other concerns that are being raised.Of course I have to voice the somewhat sceptical sentiments of those angry enough to rebel. If the majority of the public decide to vote now, as they were unable to do before implementation, by not paying, how will the company manage to enforce their penalties? There are over 3000 parking spaces, it would be interesting to know how many clamps they have and how many personnel it will take to Police the operation? It also has to be asked, how many of these personnel will be up for bribes and how many will be happy to pay to avoid the $8000 penalty?The system is a move towards development, but without a solid infrastructure of good public transport, higher wages, alternative parking solutions and fair concessions, there will be a myriad of hiccups and crisis to overcome. Let’s hope this pushes forward developments in the other areas, which are no doubt already on the table, and that it is the catalyst for better future solutions; despite being ill-timed.last_img read more

Region 10 Children’s Costume Competition a flamboyant display

first_imgThe true spirit of the Mashramani celebrations was reflected in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) during the hosting of the annual Children’s Costume Competition, under this year’s theme: “Celebrate with Dignity, Liberty and Greater Unity”.As is customary, there was intense competition from schools across the Region in various categories. The Calypso and Dramatic Poetry competitions were staged on Wednesday, followed by the nursery and primary competition on Thursday, and secondary competition on Friday. Schools were also given the opportunity to participate in costume, dance, masquerade, Skip be Fit Jump Rope competition and Physical display.Pine Street Nursery School was dubbed the overall winner in the nursery category of the Calypso competition, while West Watooka Nursery placed second. Meanwhile, One Mile Primary was dubbed the overall winner in the five to seven years category. Copping the first position in the eight-10 category was One Mile Primary School, followed by Wismar Hill Primary in second place, while Regma Primary secured third place. The 11-13 years category saw New Silvercity Secondary copping first place, with One Mile Primary placing second. New Silvercity Secondary also copped first place in the 14-17 years category.The Dramatic Poetry segment saw Pine Street Nursery copping the first place position, while the Retrieve Nursery came in second, followed by Republic Avenue Nursery, which secured third place. The five to seven category was won by Watooka Day Primary, with Amelia’s Ward Primary placing second. Amelia’s Ward Primary was dubbed the winner of the eight-10 years category, while Watooka Day Primary copped second place. The 11-13 category was won by Wismar Hill Primary, while New Silvercity Secondary placed second. Meanwhile, in the 14-17 years category, the Mackenzie High School was dubbed overall winner, while New Silvercity Secondary placed second.The costume competition reflected the true image of the Mashramani celebrations with the flamboyant costumes on display. The individual category in the nursery segment was won by Wismar Hill Nursery, followed by South Amelia’s Ward Nursery in second place. Meanwhile, Wisroc Nursery School was dubbed winner in the group category, with Blueberry Hill Nursery in second place.The nursery dance competition was won by South Amelia’s Ward Nursery, while Canvas City Nursery placed second. Meanwhile, One Mile Primary copped first place in the five to seven and eight-10 years dance categories, respectively, while Watooka Primary placed second in both categories. The 14-17 years category was won by the New Silvercity Secondary, while the Mackenzie High School placed second. A true crowd pleaser, the New Silvercity Secondary was dubbed winner of the hip-hop segment.The Primary Segment of the jump rope competition was won by Saint Aidan’s Primary, while Regma Primary secured second place. The winners in this competition were awarded Double Dutch jump ropes, compliments of the organisers. Meanwhile, the freestyle and last man standing Primary jump rope competitions were won by Christiansburg Primary and Regma Primary respectively. Mackenzie High School was dubbed overall winner in the Skip be Fit (last man standing) jump rope competition. Successful schools who won various competitions were presented with trophies upon completion of the exercises on Friday.last_img read more

Condor flap prompts resignation

first_imgSACRAMENTO – A state fish and game commissioner submitted his resignation Thursday, saying the Schwarzenegger administration requested he leave after he clashed with the National Rifle Association over proposed protections for the California condor. In an e-mail Thursday, R. Judd Hanna told supporters that the commission’s consideration of a lead ammunition ban in areas where condors fly had been “hijacked” by a special interest group. “An issue bearing on one of the Commission’s most important mandates, protection of an endangered species, has been hijacked,” Hanna wrote in a letter he sent Thursday to Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman and other supporters. Hanna’s resignation came four days after 34 Republican lawmakers asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to remove him from the panel for distributing a 167-page packet backing a lead ammunition ban. Hanna, 66, is a retired Navy pilot and Vietnam War veteran. He is also a hunter, fisherman, farmer, former real estate developer, and Schwarzenegger campaign contributor.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear declined to comment on Hanna’s resignation. “We never comment on personnel matters,” McLear said. The resignation comes as Schwarzenegger must decide whether to sign or veto legislation to ban hunters from using lead bullets in areas where condors live. In a debate on the Senate floor last week, Democrats said condors are at risk of death and illness from ingesting toxic lead bullets used by hunters. Republicans complained the evidence was thin, noting condors eat other metals and items that kill them. The governor has not said how he would act on the bill, but the Department of Fish and Game has asked him to veto it. In his e-mail, Hanna said the evidence was overwhelming that condors are dying from lead bullets. Hanna declined comment to The Associated Press on Thursday. Schwarzenegger appointed Hanna, a Republican, to a six-year term on the commission in February. last_img read more

100-plus cited, arrested July 4

first_imgPALMDALE – More than 100 people were cited or arrested and thousands of skyrockets and other illegal fireworks were confiscated in crackdowns on illegal Fourth of July fireworks displays, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday. Hundreds more people around Palmdale, Lancaster and the neighboring unincorporated communities were openly shooting off illegal fireworks Tuesday night, but deputies couldn’t get to them all, officials said. “When you’re citing an individual, they’re (fireworks) going up on the streets all around you,” Palmdale sheriff’s Sgt. Kyle Bistline said. “It was rampant. (Deputies) said they felt like they were grabbing handfuls of sand and throwing it into the ocean, so to speak,” Lancaster sheriff’s Deputy Mike Kuper said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2While use of illegal fireworks was widespread, the damage from fires was less than last year, Los Angeles County fire officials said. Last July 4, one fire spread into 15 backyards in an older Palmdale neighborhood – destroying 12 sheds, 14 vehicles and two travel trailers – and other fires destroyed a vacant mobile home and a parked car. On Tuesday, the worst blaze was a one-acre grass fire in Quartz Hill that spread to a motor home, causing $18,000 damage. In all, firefighters answered more than 180 fireworks-related calls in the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Jason Hurd said. Higher humidity helped limit fires Tuesday and extra firefighters had been called in early to staff five reserve fire engines. “We had a lot of staffing,” Hurd said. “We were able to jump on the fires right away and put them out.” In Palmdale, 76 people were cited on suspicion of possession or use of illegal fireworks, misdemeanors, and told to appear in court. Lancaster sheriff’s deputies cited 25 people and arrested two for misdemeanor fireworks possession or related infractions, such as drinking in public. Lancaster deputies also arrested on felony offenses three people they came across while checking illegal fireworks displays, Kuper said. One was a prison parolee who had stopped reporting to his parole officer; another was his girlfriend, who tried to help him run from the deputies; and a third was a person wanted on a grand-theft warrant, Kuper said. A 15-year-old boy with a loaded pistol in his waistband was arrested after deputies followed the sparks from a Roman candle into a Palmdale neighborhood near 25th Street East and Avenue R. The teen, a reputed gang member, was with two other people, one of whom had been shooting the Roman candle, Bistline said. In Palmdale, the 29-person anti-fireworks task force was funded by the city at a cost of more than $14,000. In Lancaster, 13 deputies and a sergeant were assigned to the fireworks patrol. Palmdale sheriff’s deputies said they confiscated enough fireworks to fill a van and a pickup truck. Lancaster deputies filled a pickup truck. The confiscation included about 100 pounds of fireworks from a house near 26th Street East and Avenue R-12 where the homeowner admitted selling to neighbors, Bistline said. Palmdale deputies targeted the area bounded by 20th Street East, 47th Street East, Avenue R and Avenue S. Last year, when they targeted Palmdale’s west side, they made 65 arrests, Bistline said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Store robbery case to trial

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Dennis Elliot, a 20-year-old ex-convict from Glendale, was arrested after trying to carjack a vehicle from a woman waiting in a Taco Bell drive-through lane, deputies said. The teenagers, Erin Mauldin, 18, of Lancaster and Edward Mouton, 18, of Palmdale, were caught in a field as they tried to stuff money down gopher holes, sheriff’s deputies said. Washington was arrested near a Toyota Camry the robbers got out of in the Crossing Palms shopping center. The car had been stolen the previous day in Palmdale, deputies said. The three remaining defendants were bound over for trial on robbery and false-imprisonment charges following the conclusion of a preliminary hearing Monday. Seven kidnapping counts for each defendant were dismissed. All three were being held in lieu of $950,000 bail each. LANCASTER – A Glendale man and two Antelope Valley teenagers have been ordered to stand trial on charges stemming from a cell-phone-store takeover robbery that turned into a chase through four west Palmdale shopping centers. Another defendant, Joevonna Washington, 19, of Palmdale, who deputies said was the getaway driver, pleaded no contest last week to robbery. In custody without bail, she is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. Sheriff’s deputies surprised the masked robbers May 23 as they came out a side door of the Sprint store in the 800 block of Rancho Vista Boulevard. Deputies had been alerted by a 911 caller who saw the robbers get out of a car in the parking lot with two rifles. Other citizens helped identify the fleeing suspects and told deputies which way they went during the chase, officials said. Elliott got out of prison four weeks before the robbery after serving six months for vehicle theft.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more