Posts Tagged With: Environment

How Governance impacting on natural resource management in Developing Countries!

Developing countries are perhaps facing the biggest challenge to maintain an effective governance mechanism. Unfavorable governance system not only fading out human fundamental rights to survive but also adversely affecting natural resources. There are numerous examples how disproportionately natural resources are being extracted e.g. East Africa and Myanmar. Along with the threat of climate change, these developing countries are socially and politically vulnerable, which pushing them further behind the poverty line. Ecosystem services are frequently devastated by the hostile political conditions. It is commonly practiced that, in the name of rapid development, industrialization (often illegally possessed), militarization (to protect country from unknown/unidentified enemies) and agriculture (also illegally occupied by local dwellers) are causing huge loss of wetland and forest covers and reducing the per-capita resource. Global data shows that the Atlantic coast of Brazil, the Philippine, Sumatra and Madagascar have lost between 85-95% of their woodland because of ruthless industrialization. Conversely, El Salvador and Afghanistan also lost their forest during the civil war and American invasion respectively.

Countries like India and Bangladesh, having democracy within its harsh geo-political borders, dealing with different kinds of challenge to protect natural resource and its equal distribution among citizens. The average annual rate of deforestation in the Bangladesh in 1980 was 8,000 ha or 1 percent, which rose to nearly 5 percent during 1981-90 registering a 400 percent increase (FAO, 1993). The underlying causes of unsustainable resource extraction are poor governance, inadequate policy instruments, lack of enforcement, lack of public awareness and adverse mind-set towards resource conservation.

There are strong interconnection among good governance, human rights and sustainable development, which are directly or indirectly mentioned by the international community in a number of declarations and other global conference documents. God governance of natural resources includes interaction of various institutions and stakeholders and required favorable state of governance at all level, vertically and horizontally.

One undeniable fact is that humanity now consumes more natural resources than the planet can replenish. The current rate of consumption is a threat to the future prosperity of humankind. Today humanity uses 50% of the planet’s fresh water. With the population growth, which expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, we will use 80%. Similarly, the rate of resource consumption will increase proportionately.  Therefore, protecting natural resources would be one of the major challenges for leaders around the world, unless they act dynamically.

Photo: Naimul Islam

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Categories: Bangladesh, Governance, Natureholic | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vulture Reintroduction in Europe

Europe has recently seen a rise in  healthy population of different vulture species. Griffon Vulture, one of the old world vultures, has been reintroduced successfully in France. Like all other family members of its kind, Griffon Vultures are  scavengers. During the mid-twentieth century, the vulture population in entire Europe declined drastically and was affecting some of the major ecosystems. Out of four major vultures found in Europe, Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), France, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey and Former Yugoslavia had lost most of their populations (Schenk 1972). At that time, only Spain had noteworthy vulture population (estimated 2000 pairs of Griffon and 200 pairs of Black vultures) within its territory with insignificant movement in neighboring countries (Bernis 1966, 1974). Besides Griffon, Bearded Vulture was reintroduced in France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria through a 20 year conservation project (1972-1992). There was a critical time in the middle of last century, vulture species (Griffon, Bearded, Turkey, Black and others) were becoming critically endangered all over Europe. Different long-term and short-term initiatives were taken by France, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Spain and Turkey which helped improve the vulture  population.

In France, Bulgaria and Italy, the vulture populations declined largely due to unprecedented development activities after World War 2. It was widely acknowledged that, poisoning, shooting, starvation, wire collision, electrocution, injury, old age and imprinting are common reasons behind endangering vulture populations, not only in Europe but also in Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China). According to SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vulture From Extinction – a consortium of international organizations), 97% of vulture population have declined in Asian Sub-continent, which is quicker than that of any other species. In Europe, other causes of non-predatory death includes malnutrition, disease, and catastrophic events (Whelan 2008). Vultures are exceptionally dependent on carcasses of wild and domestic animals. They are also known as cleaners of nature. Domestic animals are frequently treated with NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), which is one of the major threats for the vulture population. RSC’s (Royal Society of Chemistry) study shows that, Veterinary painkiller like NSAID has caused for 99% of India’s vulture death between 1992 and 2007. This deadly drug is still being widely used in different countries in Europe and threatening the vulture.

The most important task vulture does for the ecosystem is consume carcasses. Dead bodies of wild animals and farm animals are primary food source of these gregarious bird species. All the vulture soars in the sky for whole day surveying the earth’s surface for food. To maintain ecological balance, the vulture plays an important role in environmental health. They are important spiritually, economically and environmentally. As scavenger, vultures are able to consume carcasses more effectively and efficiently than any others (Whelan 2008). Before the disappearance of Griffon Vulture from Massif Central and the Alps in France, (also known as  of ‘raptor war’) most of the carcasses were cleaned through natural process. Water bodies in France and other neighboring countries along the Alps were contaminated with carrion, which was effecting entire ecosystem, starting from human being to small cats and birds. Tons of abandoned wild remains were polluting air, water and soil across Alps. Though there is limited information about adverse consequences before introducing ‘vulture restaurants[1]’ in France, in 1960s, national level conservation activities began. Vulture restaurants were the first such initiative to restore Griffon Vulture population by delivering safe food (Terrasse & Terrasse 1970).

[1] Open place where safe and uncontaminated food is provided for vultures.

Vultures, importantly stop spreading diseases from carrions in wild. Scavengers are capable of digesting almost all harmful pathogens found in carcasses. They break down dead bodies and help decomposers to further break them into chemical elements. Decomposition and the recycling process of dead biomass are heavily depended on vulture species.

To strengthen conservation efforts, some legal actions facilitated restore vulture population in European countries. Since 1970s, bird shooting was legally prohibited in France. Announcing protecting areas across counties (France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and others) to protect natural resources also assisted to grow vulture population. To protect birds, in Europe, Bird Directive was developed in 1979. Spain has banned using NSAID in the beginning of twenty first century. Whereas, other European countries are still in the political process to regulate veterinary medicines.

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European communities are well-known for their environmental friendliness. Vulture reintroduction projects were widely accepted by the community. Since vultures hardly show up into urban or semi-urban areas or highly populated areas, their wolf-like misconceptions are discounted. A number of Non-government Organizations (e.g. Vulture Conservation Foundation) along with government agencies are working together to resolute unexpected issues. The Alps and the Grands Causses are free zones for vultures. Another inventiveness, ‘Farmer Feeding Places’ within the Griffon Vulture foraging areas (mainly in Grands Causses), involving community into the process made the path easier. Remarkably, reintroduced Black Vultures followed Griffon’s feeding zones and were able to uphold their distinctive characteristics.

Photo: (@ Naimul Islam_2012) Bearded Vulture soaring over the Alps (Valais, Switzerland)

Categories: Avifauna, Natureholic | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Offshore Drilling

For the sake of existence, we constantly make decisions that sacrifice environmental values. The U.S. oil supply-demand balance is insurmountable. Risky offshore drilling for oil and gas would take us down to an indecent state. Economic and technological development is the key to swift advancement in the oil and gas industry.

According to EIA (US Energy Information Administration), the United States consumed a total of 6.95 billion barrels of petroleum products (19.05 million barrels per day) in the year 2014. The petroleum market is entirely depended on the supply and demand. When there is more oil extracted then the prices are lower and consequently crates lower prices for other important commodities like plastic and fuel. By 2040, oil consumption in US will reach to around 119 MMbbl/d* from 87 MMbbl/d in 2010 (EIA-IEO2014).

In the recent time, US oil production is on the rise and creating tens of thousands of job. The bonafide oil boom to meet the need of human inconveniency is unavoidable. However, there are risks. No one denies the environmental risks of drilling for oil in ocean. No matter how careful the oil companies are, accidents that damage the environment and human well-being at least temporarily might happen. Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez, Santa Barbara, Piper Alpha and Texas City Accident are examples of piercingly pronounced incidents around the world. In every cases, human errors are attributed for those accidents.National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling have concluded that the worst ever BP accident in Gulf could have been prevented.

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Photo: Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Copyright: Wall Street Journal)

Photo: A symbol of industrial catastrophe (Deepwater Horizon)

Photo: A symbol of industrial catastrophe (Deepwater Horizon) (Copyright : http://knowledge.allianz.com)

There are many reasons that it makes sense to drill offshore. We certainly should continue to allow and promote offshore drilling, despite of experiencing numerous challenges. There are unquestionable high demands for fossil fuel. As availability declines, prices increase and decisions must be made on where drilling is acceptable. When countries like the United States are able to drill their own oil, they can be independent from countries like those belonging to OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

But, the central thought is how we administer this critical means of human civilization. Accountability in the corporate petroleum industry, policy measures, information disclosure policy, technological improvement, social justice, community participation, constant monitoring, increasing fuel efficiency and advanced research on offshore drilling can prevent another mega accident. Instead of profit maximizing, companies should focus on safety measures effectively.

color-offshore-drilling-webOffshore drilling is extremely complex structures and the slightest mistake can be devastating to the environment and economy. Federal Government, State Government, community and companies needs to capitalize from the past experience, so that we can enhance our control of drilling risks and costs. Government and companies are often disregard socio-economic effects (e.g. Fisheries and aquaculture, tourism and recreation) and effects on human health. Only truthful commitment and enhanced reliability towards a safer petroleum industry can reduce these risks.

* MMbbl/d – Million Barrel per Day

Categories: Offshore Drilling | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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