Predators Critical To Ecosystems

Killing Predators Undermines Science

By Vic Van Ballenberghe

In 1994, Alaska’s Legislature passed the Intensive Management Law intended to increase populations of moose, caribou and deer and thereby provide increased harvests for hunters. Hunting organizations supported the bill that paved the way for large-scale predator control programs. The prevailing model crafted at the time by Department of Fish and Game biologists predicted that in nearly all cases, reducing wolves and bears would increase moose and caribou numbers and would ultimately benefit hunters. The Board of Game eagerly adopted this model and vigorously applied it after 2002 across a broad area of the state. Thousands of wolves and bears were killed as part of intensive management programs featuring controversial, extreme methods including public aerial shooting of wolves, gassing of wolf pups in dens, trapping bears and shooting bears from helicopters.

wolf conservation

From the beginning, some biologists warned that managing wildlife was far more complex than simply reducing predators. We knew that predation sometimes limited prey numbers, but other factors often overshadowed predation. These included food quantity and quality, severe winters, dry summers and hunting. We stressed the importance of conducting field studies before implementing predator control, during control to monitor progress and after control to evaluate effectiveness. But some of the approved control programs lacked the necessary studies and information to justify, implement, monitor and evaluate predator reductions.

The best example of this occurred at McGrath in 1999 when local residents claimed moose were virtually gone due to wolf predation. The Game Board hastily approved a wolf control program. Field studies subsequently indicated that predation by black bears, not wolves, was limiting moose, and moose were four times as abundant as previously estimated, with enough animals present to satisfy subsistence demand. Wolf control was unnecessary.

Biologists also warned about long-term negative impacts of predator control. Decades of study indicated that if predator control worked, moose and caribou could increase to levels that over-grazed food plants, damaged habitat, reduced production and survival of young animals and ultimately led to population crashes. But the Game Board seemed to ignore these warnings. Intensive management population objectives for moose and caribou set by the board were often based on historical highs that were proven to be unsustainable and were likely unattainable in modern times. 

Now, 23 years after passage of the Intensive Management Law, have we learned enough to evaluate the law’s effectiveness and to perhaps revise our approach to managing wildlife?

In 2010, a respected biologist who studied the effects of lethal wolf control on moose and caribou populations in the Yukon for 18 years concluded that broad-scale wolf control “has limited benefits to prey populations, it does not last, and should be relegated to the past along with poison and bounties.”

My own analysis of statewide moose harvests before and after aggressive, intensive management showed no significant increase in harvests as a result of reducing predators. Intensive management didn’t result in larger moose harvests despite an increase of about 5,000 hunters per year on average during aggressive management programs.

Recently published research by state and federal biologists on the Fortymile Caribou Herd in the eastern Interior provides strong evidence that both nonlethal and lethal wolf control were ineffective as methods of increasing caribou numbers in this herd. Growth of the herd from 6,000 to 52,000 during 1973-2014 could not be attributed to either form of control. Caribou numbers increased at their highest rate before nonlethal control began and at their lowest rate during the years of lethal control. In addition, negative effects of high caribou density and reduced food resources at the current herd size indicate that wolf control should cease. The studies also concluded that each caribou herd exists within the constraints of its own unique environmental features. Field studies on each herd are therefore necessary to evaluate predator reductions.

The intensive management population objective for the Fortymile Herd is currently 50,000 to 100,000 caribou. Clearly, the Game Board should revise this to reflect that a population of 50,000 caribou in this herd is likely not sustainable. The board should also review objectives for other caribou herds that have declined greatly in recent years, including the Western Arctic Herd, down from 490,000 to 201,000 in recent years, and the Central Arctic Herd, down from 70,000 to 22,000.

A 1997 National Research Council review of Alaska’s predator control programs prior to 1997 concluded that most did not result in prey increases and several lacked the necessary information to evaluate them. Now, after more than two decades of intensive management, we can reach the same conclusions for control programs approved after 1997.

Hopefully, the Fortymile Herd case history will demonstrate to the Game Board that caribou herds can increase absent wolf control, that wolf control sometimes does not work, that expensive, long-term field studies are necessary to justify, monitor and evaluate predator reductions, and that caribou herds can reach high densities and crash after damaging their habitat.

A good first step would be for the board to revisit each herd’s intensive management population objective and revise those that appear unsustainable based on the best available information.

Alaska’s Intensive Management Law is unique in North America. Its implementation has been highly controversial. Hopefully, we can learn from past mistakes and revise our approach. Those who depend on our wildlife resources, predators as well as prey, deserve management programs that are the best they can be.

Biodiversity News Update.

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Crossbow Communications is an international public affairs firm. It specializes in health and environmental issues. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

PR Firm Launches Campaign To Defend Biodiversity, Stop Deforestation

Deforestation Promoting Climate Change, Loss Of Biodiversity

Deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses and cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Unfortunately, deforestation also threatens entire watersheds, endangered species and endangered cultures around the world. An international PR firm based in Phoenix, Arizona has launched a program to help reverse deforestation, while defending entire ecosystems.

If all CO2 emissions stopped today, climate change will still intensify because of existing carbon in the atmosphere. Energy conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are vital, but we need proven carbon capture strategies to help restore balance to our atmosphere. Forest conservation is more important than ever.

deforestation and endangered species

“Thousands of community stakeholders across East Africa are ready to act now,” said Gary Chandler founder of both Crossbow Communications and its subsidiary Sacred Seedlings. “They can help us all fight global climate change, while defending critical ecosystems in Tanzania, Kenya and beyond. We’re launching a campaign to help them secure the resources to succeed.”

According to Chandler, several NGOs, including the Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania have plans to save remaining forests in the region, while promoting reforestation, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. The program will plant more than 10 million new seedlings just in the Kilimanjaro ecosystem.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.

“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glaciers to rampant wild fires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuel wood and medicines for the people who live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fibre grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.

While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. According to Chandler, Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, carbon capture, reforestation, urban forestry,sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems, including millions of people who live in the region.

Tanzania lion conservation

Loss of forests isn’t the only problem in East Africa. Tanzania may have lost half its elephant population since 2007. It could be wiped out entirely in just seven years. Kenya’s wildlife also is under assault like never before. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.

Tanzania’s elephant population declined from an estimated 109,000 elephants in 2009 to around 70,000 in 2012. Approximately 30 elephants are killed for their ivory every day.

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Thanks to the leadership of NGOs and stakeholders in East Africa, we now have 14 comprehensive plans that can fight global climate change, while defending cultures, communities and entire ecosystems. We need your help.

Read More About Deforestation and Loss of Biodiversity at http://crossbowcommunications.com/deforestation-contributing-to-climate-change-loss-of-biodiversity/

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Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The PR firm specializes in issue management and public affairs.

Deforestation Contributing To Climate Change, Extinction

Forest Conservation Critical To Life

Forest conservation is critical to life as we know it. Forests sequester carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuelwood and medicines. While the pressures on our vanishing forests vary around the world, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy.

Small-scale farmers also play a role as they often slash and burn land every year just to survive. Mining, hydroelectricity and new roads add to the pressure on vanishing forests around the globe.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

Deforestation has caused about 20 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The rise in greenhouse gases, both human caused and natural, is contributing to unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change, extreme weather and threats to life as we know it.

Deforestation also cripples our planet’s capacity to capture carbon from the atmosphere, while contributing to the loss of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants and many others.

Trees and forests can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, return the oxygen to the atmosphere and store the carbon for centuries. Deforestation is disrupting this vital system, while contributing to global warming and climate change.

Forests can absorb some of the carbon dioxide that we all produce in our daily lives. Unfortunately, our remaining forests are under siege. We can reverse the trend now by demanding forest conservation and reforesting as much land as possible.

If we could stop tropical deforestation today, allow damaged forests to grow back, and protect mature forests, the resulting reduction in emissions and removal of carbon from the atmosphere could equal up to one-third of current global emissions from all sources. Reforestation is a critical part of the solution to many of our most pressing sustainability challenges.

Many developing countries have indicated that they would be willing to reduce emissions further in return for international financial support. Rich countries could do more to fight climate change at lower cost by financing tropical forest conservation in addition to their own domestic emission cuts. The few REDD+ agreements already in place have priced avoided CO2 emissions at only $5 per ton, truly a bargain compared to most other options.

In both Brazil and Indonesia, national efforts to reduce deforestation have been associated with greater transparency, increased law enforcement targeted at forest-related crime and corruption and steps to strengthen the land rights of indigenous peoples. A broad coalition of governments, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations and indigenous groups recognized these potential benefits in the September 2014 New York Declaration on Forests.

wildlife conservation Africa

Stakeholders across East Africa are ready to act now. They can help us all fight global climate change, while defending critical ecosystems in Tanzania, Kenya and beyond.

We have approved plans to plant more than 110 million new trees on millions of hectares in Tanzania and Kenya alone. We’re developing more reforestation and agroforestry projects around the world, which will:

  • Absorb carbon dioxide to battle climate change;
  • Defend ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Preserve watersheds and control flooding;
  • Preserve and create habitat for wildlife;
  • Preserve local lifestyles and cultures, while promoting sustainability; and
  • Create jobs for men and women that can help defend endangered ecosystems.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.

“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.

He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glacier to rampant wild fires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

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Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs.

Tanzania Loses More Than Half Of Elephants In Past Decade

Proposed Program Will Defend Ecosystems, Wildlife

The Kilimanjaro region of East Africa is one of the most threatened ecosystems on earth. Millions of people and several endangered species depend on the snows and rains of Kilimanjaro for survival. As land use encroaches further into local forests, water flows are changing and conflicts with wildlife are rising. A nonprofit organization in Tanzania hopes to reverse those trends with a comprehensive forest conservation, reforestation and community-engagement program.

Save Kilimanjar

The Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania will defend the greater Kilimanjaro ecosystem with more than 10 million new seedlings, community engagement, wildlife conservation strategies and more. They will educate local stakeholders about sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife management. Unlike past reforestation efforts in the region, it will focus on local needs and long-term sustainability. The seedlings are indigenous species that can help restore and protect the integrity of the ecosystem, while helping rural communities thrive as stewards of the land.

Save Kilimanjaro

Unfortunately, forests across the region are retreating under the pressures of agriculture and communities that depend on firewood.

Climate change is impacting every continent. Deforestation and intensive agriculture are contributing to the problem. Fortunately, forest conservationreforestation, and sustainable agriculture are part of the solution.

The foundation plans to save wildlife, capture carbon and reduce deforestation on a massive scale. This investment will benefit the entire planet, while preserving a world treasure.

wildlife conservation Tanzania

Tanzania lost more than half of its elephants to poachers over the past decade. They could be wiped out entirely in just five or six years. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.

“We have some powerful sponsorship packages,” said Crossbow President Gary Chandler. “We also have some very unique rewards for donors. Please help spread the word to your friends, families and favorite companies. This is a very important program to the entire world.”

elephant conservation Tanzania

Please Help Save Kilimanjaro and beyond https://www.gofundme.com/SaveKilimanjaro

Tanzania lion conservation

Wolves Keep Making Tracks To California

Wolves Critical To Healthy Ecosystems

Evidence of a wolf in Modoc County was reported yesterday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The 3-year-old male wolf, who is radio-collared and dubbed OR-25 by the state wildlife agency in Oregon, left his birthpack in northeastern Oregon in April, was in southwestern Oregon by December and recently crossed the border into California.

wolf California OR-25

“California is clearly wolf country because they keep coming here from Oregon. This is a great moment to celebrate,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Perhaps they are following a scent trail from other wolves that have come here the past couple years but, whatever the reason, it makes it all the more necessary to ensure they have the protections needed to thrive once they get here.”

OR-25 was born into the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon, as was California’s first known wild wolf in 87 years, OR-7, who first came to California in 2011. OR-7 ranged across seven northeastern counties in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and had litters of pups in 2014 and 2015.

In August 2015, California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County. The breeding female of that pack, which has five pups, is also related to the Imnaha pack.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is native to California but was driven to extinction in the state by the mid-1920s. After OR-7 dispersed from Oregon into California, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned the state to fully protect wolves under California’s state endangered species act. In June 2014 the California Fish and Game Commission voted in favor of the petition, making it illegal to intentionally kill any wolves that enter the state. In 2012 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife convened a citizen stakeholder group to help the agency develop a state wolf plan for California, and recently released a draft plan for public comment.

“With the establishment of the Shasta pack and now with OR-25’s presence, it is all the more critical that the state wolf plan provide management strategies that will best recover and conserve these magnificent animals,” said Weiss.

Endangered Species News via http://www.planetexperts.com/new-wolf-detected-in-californias-modoc-county/

Climate Change Impacting Endangered Cultures, Species

Plans To Fight Defend Ecosystems

Forests in East Africa are still vanishing due to agriculture and the need for fuel wood and charcoal. This deforestation threatens ecosystems that support millions of people and endangered species.

wildlife conservation Tanzania

To help stop this growing crisis, dozens of NGOs and thousands of stakeholders across five nations have united to develop plans that can make this entire region more sustainable and resilient. These plans include:

  • forest conservation,
  • reforestation,
  • agroforestry,
  • sustainable agriculture/aquaculture,
  • solar energy,
  • wildlife conservation,
  • ecotourism and more.

The projects include Burundi, Kenya,RwandaTanzania and Uganda. They represent one of the largest, proven carbon-capture opportunities available today.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

“These projects are all planned by the stakeholders who depend on their success,” said Gary Chandler, founder and executive director of Sacred Seedlings. “They are large enough and comprehensive enough to make a significant impact across East Africa and around the world.”

Chandler hopes that these plans will serve as models and motivation for similar projects around the world. As he explains deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming and climate change.

Deforestation cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Deforestation also threatens endangered species and endangered cultures around the world.

Tanzania lion conservation

NGOs behind the visionary plans include Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania, Megabridge Foundation, Youth Link, Earth Keepers Centre, and many others. The plans to fight climate change will conserve forests, while restoring ecosystems and watersheds with more than 100 million new trees just in Tanzania. The projects are ready to proceed once funded.

Save Kilimanjaro

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support.

forest conservation and reforestation

For more information about these projects, visit http://sacredseedlings.com/deforestation-and-climate-change/ 

Killing Wolves Backfires On Ranchers

Pack Disruption Detrimental To Livestock

The best way to control wolf populations and minimize livestock predation may be to stop shooting, trapping and poisoning them, Washington State University researchers say.

A review of 25 years of data from lethal control programs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services found that shooting and trapping the carnivores leads to more dead sheep and cattle in subsequent years, rather than less.

wolf conservation

Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, WSU wildlife biologist Rob Wielgus and data analyst Kaylie Peebles say that, for each wolf killed, the odds of more livestock depredations increase significantly.

Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year.

wolf consevation

 

The trend continues until 25 percent of the wolves in an area are killed, a rate of removal that is unsustainable for maintaining the species. Researchers found that killing one wolf increases the odds of depredations four percent for sheep and five to six per cent for cattle the following year. If 20 wolves are killed, livestock deaths double.

Work reported in PLOS ONE last year by Peebles, Wielgus and other WSU colleagues found that lethal controls of cougars also backfire, disrupting their populations so much that younger, less disciplined cougars attack more livestock.

Wielgus did not expect to see the same result with wolves.

“I had no idea what the results were going to be, positive or negative,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it and see what happened.’ I was surprised that there was a big effect.”

Wielgus said the wolf killings likely disrupt the social cohesion of the pack. While an intact breeding pair will keep young offspring from mating, disruption can set sexually mature wolves free to breed, leading to an increase in breeding pairs. As they have pups, they become bound to one place and can’t hunt deer and elk as freely. Occasionally, they turn to livestock.

Wielgus said wolves generally account for between .1 per cent and .6 per cent of all livestock deaths — a minor threat compared to other predators, disease, accidents and the dangers of calving. He encourages more non-lethal interventions like guard dogs, “range riders” on horseback, flags, spotlights and “risk maps” that discourage grazing animals in hard-to-protect, wolf-rich areas.

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Wielgus said, “and society has told us that that’s not going to happen.”

Wolf Conservation News via http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

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Sustainable Palm Oil A Fraud

Sustainable Palm Oil A Label Bought Not Earned

The sustainable palm oil industry is destroying biodiversity at the speed of light. In a rush to greenwash the industry, biodiversity is being crushed and pushed toward extinction. The culprits then offset the death and destruction with a token green project somewhere else around the world.

palm oil deforestation

Companies like Unilever, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft and hundreds of others use tons of vegetable oil every year. Most of it is palm oil, which is 50 percent saturated fat. Palm oil is clogging arteries and killing biodiversity at the speed of light.

Most palm oil is grown on land that was once pristine rainforest and habitat for orangutans, tigers and Asian elephants. Even so-called “sustainable” palm oil is driving deforestation and the death of endangered species today. That’s because the industry embraces a practice where companies can buy green certificates to pay for their irreversible sins in the rainforest.

Sustainable palm oil today is a myth. Destroying the pristine habitat of Sumatra and Borneo (and now South America and Africa) under the label of Sustainable Palm Oil only adds fuel to a very ugly fire. Instead of propagating lies and smokescreens, the industry should put its energies toward different models, including urban plantations.

palm oil deforestation

Killing orangutans and tigers under the name “Sustainable” Palm Oil is fraud, a crime against nature, and a crime against humanity. Sustainable Palm Oil is a label bought not earned, which is a very deadly form of fraud. You can’t destroy peatland and endangered species on Sumatra and then offset it with a eucalyptus plantation in Costa Rica. That is far from sustainability and corporate leadership. It’s organized crime.

Palm-oil bashing at times is extreme. I understand the temptation to fight fire with fire given the industries blatant lies and schemes. I do my best to stay neutral, but factual. I have offered suggestions and resources to palm oil companies in an attempt to be constructive and productive, while saving forests, wildlife and cultures. My attempts at constructive dialogue have been ignored.

Indonesia deforestation and endangered species

Unfortunately, I see a massive rush to a scheme called Sustainable Palm Oil. That BS unfortunately, and intentionally, fails to account for biodiversity. With enough Sustainable Palm Oil, we will soon have no orangutans, tigers, and other valuable species that belong to the people and the planet. Selling these nations and species down the river for mass destruction and private profits is industrial terrorism. Following in the footsteps of other industrial nations is hardly an excuse. That’s how sheep are led to slaughter.

I offer my input out of my respect for Indonesia and Malaysia in particular. However, I hope that the emerging palm oil plantation zones in South America and Africa will resist the temptation to embrace the agricultural cancer known as palm oil. Future generations are being robbed and their planet is at extreme risk thanks to palm oil.

Palm Oil News via http://crossbowcommunications.com/sustainable-palm-oil-fraud/

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Conservation Plans Must Include Community Stakeholders To Succeed

Villagers Caught In The Crossfire Of Economics, Land Use

Surrounded by a wall of fire and angry Tanzanian villagers, the elephants were forced off a cliff some 50 meters high. When the dust settled, six of the herd lay dead. The now jubilant crowd took photos of themselves among the carcasses.

It was a violent climax to a long-simmering conflict, which saw farmers regularly lose harvests as protected elephants raided their crops. But on that summer’s evening in 2009, the inhabitants of West Kilimanjaro reached breaking point, says Sayuni Mariki at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

Unfortunately, the incident is far from an isolated one. People regularly risk injury and prosecution to attack protected wildlife. Tigers and leopards have been beaten to death, wolves are illegally hunted and birds of prey fall victim to poison, to name just a few.

On the surface the motives seem simple: protecting people and their property. Scratch a little deeper though, says Mariki, and it becomes clear that the animals are often just convenient scapegoats. The real hatred is reserved for conservationists and government officials.

Mariki arrived in West Kilimanjaro in the aftermath of the elephant killings to find a disenfranchised and disillusioned village. Conservation policies had restricted access to ancestral lands, reducing the settlement to an island in a sea of game reserves. Locals watched powerlessly as private safari operators and government officials became rich from the booming tourist trade, while their crops were regularly destroyed.

Tanzania lion conservation

“Local communities feel that wild animals are valued more than people by the authorities,” says Miriki. Her interviews with those involved in the slaughter, now published, reveal that killing the elephants was as much about rebelling against this state of affairs as protecting crops and livelihoods. Similar motivations appear to drive violence in Bangladeshi villages plagued by tiger attacks.

So what is the solution? Governments should stop imposing conservation rules on communities and instead involve them in discussions, giving them power over how wildlife protection is carried out on their lands, says Francine Madden of the conservation group Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration.

Save Kilimanjaro

Offering local people a social or financial stake in conservation seems to have worked in East Africa. Here, lion-killing Masai warriors have swapped spears for radio antennas and are now among the species’ most dedicated guardians.

And in the Sundarbans region of Bangladesh a charity called Wild Team is training villagers how to deal with tiger incursions – and tiger killings are down as a result. Locals no longer feel powerless and so are less likely to take out their frustrations on an unlucky big cat, says Chloe Inskip at the University of Kent, UK, an author of the study on tiger killings in Bangladesh. “If you don’t understand these deeper levels of the conflict, it is just like putting a plaster on it without getting to the root of the problem,” she says.

Wildlife News Source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530034.300#.VK6kWmTF-Ws

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

China Grabbing Latin America’s Vanishing Resources

China Trashing Latin America To Fuel Growth

In January 1997, Panama awarded concessions to a Chinese company to operate port facilities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts at both ends of the Panama Canal, just after having obtained control of it from the US.

When did Latin America and the Caribbean wake up to its dramatically expanding new relationship with China? November 2004, when the then Chinese president Hu Jintao visited Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba and apparently spoke of the possibility of investing US$100 billion in the region – although the Chinese government later claimed it had been mistranslated and the US$100 billion referred to bilateral trade.

deforestation and endangered species

That, at least, is what Evan Ellis, a researcher at the U.S. Army War College and considered by some to be a leading expert on China-Latin America relations, states in his new book China on the Ground in Latin America: Challenges for the Chinese and Impacts on the Region. Ellis’s main argument is that in the last few years the Chinese have started to establish a new, “significant” physical presence in Latin America and the Caribbean – following trade deals, acquisitions, loans and loan-backed construction projects, among other things. As a result, Ellis argues that China now finds itself, for the first time in its 5,000 year history, connected to however many million non-Chinese people in other countries and dependent on the “success and well-being of its commercial representatives in distant parts of the world.”

While the focus of his book is Chinese acquisitions, loans, other commercial dealings and the challenges these pose for the Chinese government, companies and Chinese people living in Latin America, Ellis has various things to say about the environment.

Chinese companies have focused on developing their physical presence in Latin America in the sectors that are most likely to generate environmental impacts and concerns: petroleum, mining and agriculture. The Chinese presence in petroleum is most significant in Venezuela, Ecuador and Argentina, and in mining in Ecuador and Peru.

Resistance from “environmentalists and local communities” is one of the major challenges facing Chinese companies trying to make acquisitions and win contracts in Latin America. To date, projects involving Chinese investors have “often” been “opposed on environmental grounds, or because of their impact on local communities and indigenous groups,” writes Ellis, citing the Chone dam project and Mirador mine in Ecuador, the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, the Rio Blanco mine in Peru, the Lupe mine in Mexico, a soy processing facility in Rio Negro in Argentina, the Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, and the River Magdalena in Colombia as examples.

deforestation is taking Latin America's biodiversity with it.

Opposition to Chinese projects on environmental grounds is “likely to expand in the future because of the number of potential projects. . . that involve environmentally sensitive areas.” These include plans to develop Goat Island, Jamaica, into an “international shipping hub” and the exploitation of the Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini (ITT) oil fields in the far east of the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador where Ellis says the “Chinese corporations who have already done the exploratory drilling are the leading contenders” to win contracts.

Indeed, Ellis states that although “no official link” exists between ITT and the construction of a new refinery on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, “a senior Ecuadorian source speaking off-the-record suggested that the granting of the rights for ITT may be a condition pursued by the Chinese for the funding of the Refinery. . . which would be fed by the petroleum extracted there.”

Environmental concerns are a major challenge for Chinese companies not because they are “inherently less respectful of the environment” than others, but “because of a confluence of factors” including the high environmental impacts of the sectors they are focusing on, a “cultural distance” between Chinese and Latin American people, and Chinese companies’ lack of experience in the region. One example: “Chinese executives and managers often presume that local authorities will be able to force local residents to comply with decisions to relocate their homes. . . and may mistakenly presume that, as long as they have reached an agreement with the appropriate government authorities, the local communities and other actors will comply with the decisions.”

deforestation and indigenous tribes in Amazon

“Environmental complaints” have already been made about various ongoing Chinese projects. These include the Marcona mine in Peru run by the company Shougang, the Cerro Maimon mine in the Dominican Republic, and the Sierra Grande mine in Argentina.

Chinese companies “have made efforts to improve their environmental practices where they have felt it necessary to do so, in order to avoid problems with governments and communities.” Ellis cites new technology by company Bosai to address dust problems caused by bauxite mining in Guyana as one example, and ten “environmental protection projects oriented toward wastewater, dust and air pollution” at the Marcona mine in Peru as another.

Offshore drilling by Chinese companies in Latin America and the Caribbean is particularly risky in terms of environmental impacts because “they are relatively new to producing and using deepwater drilling technology.” Ellis argues that Chinese operations are “arguably even more vulnerable to such risks” than was BP before the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico blowout in 2010.

Although “many Chinese companies in Latin America do behave badly” – either “due to a combination of willful imposition of Chinese norms and practices that do not function well in the new context, or accidentally, due to a lack of knowledge regarding local norms” – they “do not inherently behave worse than their Western counterparts” (Ellis’s italics).

A “significant portion” of the new Chinese presence in Latin America is in the renewable energy sector where companies “have been a key force in the “green revolution” transforming the energy generation mix” and “slowly moving the electricity infrastructure of the region away from fossil fuels.” Ellis states that “of the many projects and acquisitions by Chinese firms in the electricity generation sector. . . only a very small number have involved traditional fossil fuel power generation facilities”, with a focus instead on hydroelectric and what Ellis calls a “wave of new solar and wind power projects” across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico.

What better way to end than with one particularly emblematic example and startling claim? Despite a January 2014 announcement that work would begin on a canal through Nicaragua by the end of this year or early 2015, “as this book went to press, a public announcement regarding the route to be taken by the canal had not been made, nor had any information been made public regarding environmental impact” (my italics, this time). Indeed, a report published in September by the Alexander von Humboldt Studies Centre in Nicaragua states that “technical information of environmental character generated during the design, construction and operation of the Great Canal and associated projects will remain confidential,” under the terms of the concession agreement. Von Humboldt calls the canal – due to be built by the Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company – and associated infrastructure the biggest environmental threat to the country in its history.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2014/dec/20/10-china-latin-america-environment?CMP=share_btn_tw

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Wolves Critical To Biodiversity

Wolf Conservation Critical To Healthy Ecosystems

Whether you believe in god, science or both, wolves are here for a reason. They and all species are part of the web of life, which supports us all. To think that wildlife and forests require “MAN-agement” is arrogant and ignorant. Ecosystems need to be protected from human encroachment so that they can continue to work for us.

wolf consevation

Thanks to the arrogance of humans, we now have an unstoppable epidemic changing ecosystems forever, That epidemic in wildlife is called chronic wasting disease. There is no species barrier. It can be transmitted to livestock–where it’s called mad cow disease. Livestock can spread it back to wildlife and on to humans. in humans it’s called Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. More than 44 million people in the world have these diseases now and it’s growing rapidly. The scientific name for this family of neurodegenerative disorders is Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is transmissible.

It’s an environmental nightmare because all of these victims contaminate their environment with a deadly protein called a prion. Prions are in urine, feces, blood and cell tissue. When wildlife contract the disease, they spread the disease to their herds with every breath and every step.

wolf California

Wolves are our best hope to minimize the spread of disease within these herds before it kills them all. Wolves can minimize the risk of spreading prion disease to beef and dairy cattle (listen up Wisconsin, Idaho and Wyoming). Wolves are the friends of hunters and ranchers. Quit playing god and let mother nature regain its balance. Our lives depend on predators.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Sustainable Palm Oil A Myth

Tropical Deforestation and Palm Oil

Deforestation is directly responsible for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the carbon released when forests are burned, deforestation impairs the planet’s capacity to absorb harmful CO2 from our air, which compounds the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change.

palm oil deforestation

Because of deforestation, ecosystems in some regions of the world are on the verge of collapse right now. Balancing record human populations with diminishing natural resources is getting more challenging by the day.

The palm oil industry has been one of the greatest drivers of deforestation over the past 20+ years. Most of us have products in our kitchens and bathrooms that contain palm oil. It’s found in thousands of products, including cookies, shampoo, lotions and shaving cream. Most of us have no idea that these products promote tropical deforestation and wildlife extinction.

Palm oil is a multibillion-dollar industry—and it’s still growing rapidly at the expense of our rainforests. The World Wildlife Fund says palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet, (65 percent of all vegetable oil). While it isn’t always clearly labeled on consumer products, the environmental impact has been devastating.

palm oil deforestation

Most recently, Singapore, home to some of the largest palm companies in the world, warned citizens about the health costs of using palm oil, which is 50 percent saturated fat.

In most cases, owners of the palm oil plantation (or their sister companies in pulp and paper) are responsible for slashing and/or burning the land to clear large swaths for palm tree production. If not, they often rely on a shell game called “sustainable” palm oil to hide their connection to the deforestation.

Endangered species, including Sumatra tigers, orangutans and elephants are displaced, if not killed as part of this bungle in the jungle. Those that survive cannot ever return. It’s definitely not a sustainable practice.

These palm plantations proceed to disrupt entire ecosystems because they are based on the concept of monoculture versus biodiversity. Even a so-called “sustainable” plantation often sits on thousands of acres of former wildlife habitat within a critical watershed. The Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) appears to be just a shell game where offenders can purchase offsets or credits to cover their misdeeds. Companies with blood on their hands (directly or indirectly through suppliers) simply buy credits and claim to be sustainability leaders.

Sustainable palm oil needs to defend biodiversity and endangered species. Sustainable palm oil needs to be responsible in the battle against climate change. Stalling, green washing and outright lies are not leadership tactics.

At the moment, most sustainable palm oil is merely a cheap label that anyone can buy. If RSPO is bought not earned, it’s meaningless. A “sustainability leader” can kill ecosystems and endangered species and buy credits to cover its tracks. That’s fraud not sustainability.

It’s time to force biodiversity and endangered species into every conversation about palm oil (and other industries). It’s time to defend ecosystems, not just corporate reputations. If tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos go extinct at the hands of RSPO, we don’t have our values in order.

We have a model for a sustainable pilot plan that can expand palm oil’s footprint, while fighting poverty and climate change. It also could lower production costs. This model involves urban forestry in cities throughout the tropics. In these locations, millions of trees can make neighborhoods more livable, resilient and more productive.

Indonesia deforestation and endangered species

Entire neighborhoods serve as the caretakers and harvesters. Palm companies merely develop collection centers that pay neighbors for their harvest, while funneling the supply onward for processing. Meanwhile, these urban trees can make communities more resilient, while sheltering buildings from the weather (which can save energy and cut CO2 emissions). No deforestation or displacement involved and every city has millions of spaces for trees. These trees also can help control surface water runoff in cities and protect them from floods.

We urge palm oil producers and stakeholders to work with us on this model and others. We have stakeholders around the world ready to help. It’s time for a new paradigm and new partnerships on forest conservation.

Read more about the myths associated with sustainable palm oil. http://crossbowcommunications.com/sustainable-palm-oil-label-bought-not-earned/

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.