July 22, 2011

Kenyan president torches 5 tons of illegal ivory to focus attention on poaching

Filed under: Africa, biodiversity — Tags: — inece @ 10:34 am
Image (c) Barbara Lee Shaw

Image (c) Barbara Lee Shaw

From the Kenya Wildlife Service: 

Kenyan President  Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday 20 July 2011 set ablaze five tonnes of ivory …[to demonstrate that] Kenya would like to stand counted as a country in the forefront in wildlife conservation.

“Through the disposal of contraband ivory, we seek to formally demonstrate to the world our determination to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in ivory,’’ Kibaki told several hundred conservationists at the Kenya Wildlife Service paramilitary training school in Tsavo West National Park.“We must all appreciate the negative effects of illegal trade to our national economies. We cannot afford to sit back and allow criminal networks to destroy our common future.’’

…The action, which was part of the first ever African Elephant Law Enforcement Day celebrations, was …meant to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the African elephant across Africa. Speaking on behalf of the Lusaka Agreement Governing Council, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, said the collective message to poachers and traders in illegal wildlife was that “their days were numbered.”

Dr Noah Wekesa, Kenya’s Minister for Forestry and Wildlife said the message had been sent to all in the illegal trade chain “to abandon this business and be part of conservation efforts.”He proposed that in future, confiscated ivory should be disposed off in its country of origin to “send a powerful message to poachers that this business is not acceptable in their country.”

Dr Wekesa said Kenya was in the final stages of passing a new wildlife policy and bill which has heavy penalties that would serve as a deterrent to poaching and ensure that “illegal wildlife trade has no safe haven within our region.”

For the full article, see the Kenya Wildlife Service Website.

See also, more information on the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day.

June 9, 2011

New Ecosystems Climate Alliance Report Looks at Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions and REDD+.

Filed under: 9th Conference, biodiversity, climate, Forests — inece @ 9:02 pm

credit: Anton Raath

A new paper developed by the Ecosystems Climate Alliance looks at the relationship between Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions and REDD+. The paper argues that Parties should not allow the extensive work put into REDD+ to now be undermined by the use of alternative and less stringent provisions relating to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Activities (NAMAs). The paper identifies two key issues that need to be resolved to avoid the possibility of NAMAs undermining REDD+:

  1. Parties should clarify that mitigation activities in the forest sector, including those considered as NAMAs, must comply with the REDD+ provisions, and
  2. Parties should also develop suitable safeguards applicable to NAMAs, drawing upon lessons learnt from the REDD+ safeguards.

To access the paper, visit Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions – Undermining REDD+ in the Forest Sector?

June 8, 2011

AFP: Bangladesh creates anti-poaching police force

Filed under: 9th Conference, Asia, biodiversity — Tags: — inece @ 2:24 am

Tiger Sanctuary in Bangladesh. Photo credit: BBC World Service

AFP reports that Bangladesh will launch a specialized anti-poaching police force to respond to a sharp rise in poaching and exotic animal smuggling.

The 300-member Wildlife Crime Control Unit will be deployed in July as part of a $36 million World Bank-funded project aimed at protecting native endangered species and their habitats, Tapan Kumar told AFP.

“It’s the first time we have created a specific force to combat wildlife poachers who have become increasingly sophisticated,” he said, adding that a recent increase in wildlife smuggling was “alarming”.

Most of the unit will be stationed in the Sundarbans — the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger — and will be equipped with modern weaponry and 38 patrol boats, he said.

Full article

April 4, 2011

Philippines Creates Anti Illegal Logging Task Force

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity, Environmental Crime, Forests — inece @ 7:27 pm

Flickr User Roberto Verzo

To ensure enforcement of Executive Order 23, the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office in Legazpi City announced the creation of the Regional Anti Illegal Logging Task Force on 23 March 2011.

To view the full story, click here: http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=1&t=1&id=24041

March 10, 2011

The Philippines: Seized corals point to Punta Engaño officials

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity, Environmental Crime — Tags: — inece @ 3:02 pm

The Cebu Daily News reports:

A Capitol employee inventories corals confiscated during an NBI operation (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia said a charge of dereliction of duty would be filed against Punta Engaño barangay officials for failing to detect illegally harvested corals found in their area.

Garcia said the confiscated corals, which weighed more than a ton, included “endangered” species.

“The NBI will be filing the charges. You must understand that they will (have to) file charges against the barangay officials for dereliction of duty,” Garcia said.

Last Tuesday, Central Visayas operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) seized a truckload of corals that was abandoned in barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City.

The corals were brought to the Cebu Provincial Capitol and are now kept in the parking lot.

Joefrey Merencillo, agricultural chief III of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), said the confiscated corals weighed more than 1.4 tons.

BFAR said that at least three species from the batch were among those identified as “endangered.”

See the full article online, Seized corals point to Punta Engaño officials.

February 9, 2011

Report Estimates Global Environmental Crime at $40 Billion Annually

Filed under: biodiversity, Environmental Crime, Forests — inece @ 10:55 pm

A new report by Global Financial Integrity, entitled “Transnational Crime in the Developing World,” ranks four types of environmental smuggling among the top ten most valuable trade flows in the world.

The illegal traffic in oil, wildlife, timber and fish together are valued at close to $40 billion, according to the report which also outlines the role of transnational crime syndicates and their vast trade networks in facilitating this trade.

For the full report, please visit: http://transcrime.gfip.org/.

February 7, 2011

World Leaders Call for Sustainable Forest Management at Launch of UN Year of Forests

Filed under: biodiversity, Forests, UN System — inece @ 7:52 pm

From the UN Media Release:

Environmental experts and world leaders called today for the sustainable management of forests in the interest of human development as the United Nations Forum on Forests began its High-level Ministerial Segment by launching the International Year of Forests, 2011, which was followed by discussions on people-centred forestry and financing for forest communities.

“We have a chance to agree on how best to realize the full potential of forests — for sustainable development, economic stability, the fight against poverty and our efforts to ensure future prosperity for all,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he opened the proceedings via video message.  By proclaiming the Year, the General Assembly had created an important platform from which to educate the global community about the great value of forests, while continuing to link all global efforts in sustainable forest management following on the climate agreements reached in Cancun, Mexico, in late 2010 and leading up to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

Key to sustainable forest management is ensuring compliance with national law to protect forest resources, including predictable and appropriate enforcement responses to violations. For information on INECE’s work on promoting compliance and enforcement for forest protection, see http://www.inece.org/forumslogging.html.

Additional resources: For the full media release, see http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2011/envdev1188.doc.htm. To watch the webcast of the launch ceremony of the International Year of Forests, please visit UN Webcast. See also, the web page for the UN Forum on Forests, http://www.un.org/esa/forests/.

February 2, 2011

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Filed under: biodiversity, climate, water — inece @ 7:30 pm

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands celebrates its 40th Anniversary on 2 February 2011, marking the day that 18 nations agreed, in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, on the text of the Convention.

The Ramsar Convention, which currently has 160 Contracting Parties, is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories. The Ramsar Secretariat has developed 12 Key Messages on wetlands in recognition of the Convention’s 40th Anniversary, which can be accessed online.

As the Key Messages recognize, wetlands provide irreplaceable ecosystem services, including provision of food, water purification, storage and supply of freshwater, flood control and storm protection, and recreation. Wetlands are frequently areas of high biodiversity and many species are wetland-dependent for all or part of their lifecycles. Wetlands also have a key role to play in the carbon cycle and in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  As part of a renewed commitment to Ramsar on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, countries could evaluate areas to strengthen enforcement of existing laws to protect wetlands and, where necessary, strengthen relevant legislation.

January 31, 2011

TRAFFIC: South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network Launched in Bhutan

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity — inece @ 4:15 pm

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, reported that a South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) was formally launched at an inter-governmental meeting hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan on 30 January 2011.  From the press release:

Image credit Peter HarrisonIllegal wildlife trade is a form of trans-national organized crime that threatens many iconic species across the world. South Asia, home to a diverse network of natural ecosystems and varied biodiversity, is especially vulnerable to such threats. Apart from key species such as tigers, elephants and rhinos, there are a variety of medicinal plants, timber, marine species, birds and reptiles are threatened by illegal exploitation and trafficking.

To counter such threats, the eight countries of South Asia [Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka] have come together to establish an organized and co-ordinated body— the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). …

The critical points decided by the Experts Group during the meeting were:-

  • An agreed action-oriented work plan for joint activities, some of which will begin immediately and which will continue to develop further as the network gathers strength;
  • Establishing a SAWEN Secretariat, which will be hosted by the Government of Nepal;
  • An agreed governance and operational structure for SAWEN;
  • The need for strategic collaboration on communications and fundraising.

…“With the formal operation of SAWEN beginning henceforth, the countries of the region have now reached a milestone in their efforts to counter the spectre of illegal wildlife trade,” said Samir Sinha, TRAFFIC’s programme head in India. “This is an essential piece of a collective effort to conserve a region of outstanding biological richness and diversity.”

December 8, 2010

Google Satellite Platform to Support REDD Efforts

Filed under: biodiversity, Forests, water management — inece @ 7:16 pm

Google has introduced new mapping technology during the UNFCCC Climate Meetings in Cancun, Mexico, that will help monitor forest carbon projects.

Screenshot of Google's Earth Engine Map of Mexico Forest Cover

Google Earth Engine is a new technology platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite imagery and data—current and historical—online for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. The platform will enable scientists to use our extensive computing infrastructure—the Google “cloud”—to analyze this imagery…

Google Earth Engine can be used for a wide range of applications—from mapping water resources to ecosystem services to deforestation. It’s part of our broader effort at Google to build a more sustainable future. We’re particularly excited about an initial use of Google Earth Engine to support development of systems to monitor, report and verify (MRV) efforts to stop global deforestation. Excerpted from the Official Google Blog.

Traditional forest monitoring is complex and expensive, requiring access to large amounts of satellite data, lots of hard drives to hold the data, lots of computers to process the data, and lots of time while you wait for various computations to finish. Our prototype demonstrates how Earth Engine makes all of this easier, by moving everything into the cloud. Google supplies data, storage, and computing muscle. As a result, you can visualize forest change in fractions of a second over the web, instead of the minutes or hours that traditional offline systems require for such analysis. From the Official Google Blog.

For more information, see , Google unveils satellite platform to aid forest efforts (Reuters) and Scientists turn to Google for answers (The Independent).

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