Environment Stories: Trash Free Waters, Manatees and the Oldest Tree in Europe: Sunday, August 21, 2016

Here are the week’s highlights, carefully selected by me! I hope you find them useful. Click on the underlined words and you will find the links to articles. Feedback is welcome!

Jamaica and the Caribbean

Acting Country Director of the U.S. Peace Corps, Mr. George Like, speaks at the launch of the Trash Free Waters Initiative at NEPA offices last week. The Peace Corps has over 30 volunteers working in the environmental field in Jamaica. (My photo)
Acting Country Director of the U.S. Peace Corps, Mr. George Like, speaks at the launch of the Trash Free Waters Initiative at NEPA offices last week. The Peace Corps has over 30 volunteers working in the environmental field in Jamaica. (My photo)

Trash Free Waters: The Trash Free Waters Initiative was launched on August 18 at the offices of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). There’s a great website here. The  launch was a friendly affair, attended by government officials, NGO representatives and members of the media. This is very much a collaborative effort, with funding from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and support from the Jamaican Government, the United Nations Environment Programme, NEPA and the U.S. Peace Corps. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith officially launched the Initiative/ UNEP’s Christopher Corbin and others noted that this was not a “reinvent the wheel” project, but rather building on local efforts across the island – with an emphasis on prevention of littering. Diana McCaulay, CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), informed the meeting that the Tourism Ministry’s Clean Coasts Initiative has been discontinued – which is a huge shame. This is one of the most pressing environmental issues in Jamaica; we need all hands on deck.

Gentle giant: West Indian Manatees are up to 13 feet long and weigh as much as 1,300 pounds. They are mammals, and they are not aggressive creatures. (Photo: National Geographic)
Gentle giant: West Indian Manatees are up to 13 feet long and weigh as much as 1,300 pounds. They are mammals, and they are not aggressive creatures. (Photo: National Geographic)

West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus) are now quite rare. I believe there are only a few in the waters around Jamaica and they were hunted to extinction in the French Caribbean over 100 years ago. Now two “sea cows” have been imported all the way from Singapore to Guadeloupe. The male and female are now safely installed in Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, a 37,000-acre protected bay. Over the next five years, 13 more manatees will join them (mostly females), from zoos around the world. The West Indian Manatee can live in fresh, brackish, and saline water. It is threatened by loss of habitat, poaching, entanglement with fishing gear, and being hit by boats.

Climate risk atlas to be ready by year-end: The Planning Institute of Jamaica will have a Climate Risk Atlas for Jamaica ready by year-end. While the Negril breakwater project has been shelved, the Atlas is another component of the Adaptation Fund’s support, to the tune of US$785,500 under the Improving Institutional and Local Level Capacity for Coastal and Agricultural Adaptation and Awareness Raising for Behaviour Modification project. It will help planners and developers to determine possible risks due to climate change.

Climate Change Division head Albert Daley, speaking at a training session last year. Seated is Judith Wedderburn, formerly of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). (My photo)
Climate Change Division head Albert Daley, speaking at a training session last year. Mr. Daley has now retired. Seated is Judith Wedderburn, formerly of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). (My photo)

Albert Daley retires from Climate Change Division (CCD): Head of the CCD Mr. Albert Daley is retiring this month, after three years in the position. The former Senior Technical Officer Gerald Lindo also recently departed and is now at USAID. The Division has always been extremely small and now really needs a capacity boost. Mr. Daley notes,“The UNDP did a study and it basically said that ideally we needed about 20 persons at the very least.” Considering that it really only consisted of four or five members of staff at best, the Division has done the very best it can and has had some modest achievements.

Elevated view of Hanson’s Bay (Photo courtesy of Kevel Lindsay/Antigua Observer)
Elevated view of Hanson’s Bay (Photo courtesy of Kevel Lindsay/Antigua Observer)

Biologist calls on private landowners to help preserve Antigua’s landscape: Regional Biologist and Conservationist Kevel Lindsay (who has an interesting Facebook page called Wild Caribbean) has asked private landowners not to implement large-scale developments in ecologically sensitive areas of the island, but to go for “low impact, low footprint development” instead. A number of areas that are privately owned could still be designated as protected areas if there are incentives for the owners to practice conservation measures, Linsday maintains. He is particularly concerned about the the Sleeping Hill-Saddle Hill, Hanson’s Bay, Yorks Extension and Sutherlands areas.

The Rest of the World

A jellyfish & a plastic cup cover – which is which? It’s easy to see how a sea turtle could get confused and accidentally swallow plastic. (Photo by Mike Davenport)
A jellyfish & a plastic cup cover – which is which? It’s easy to see how a sea turtle could get confused and accidentally swallow plastic. (Photo by Mike Davenport)

I follow the blog of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. A recent post focuses on the impact of plastic pollution on our wildlife, and this photo illustrates how extremely similar a plastic cup lid is to a jellyfish is quite telling. The blog post reminds members of the public to take care not to make the problem a lot worse.

The $290 million, 30 MW wind farm off the coast of Block Island is quite small compared to European wind farms. (Photo: fastcoexist.com)
The $290 million, 30 MW wind farm off the coast of Block Island is quite small compared to European wind farms. (Photo: fastcoexist.com)

It has taken a while, but America’s first offshore wind farm is almost complete.  The Block Island Wind Farm, a five-turbine, 30 MW  project built by Deepwater Wind, is very small-scale compared to most European projects (90 per cent of all offshore wind projects are in Europe, providing 11 gigawatts of power). But it will likely open the door to more and larger projects along the U.S. east coast.

Is climate change making our beaches saltier? A recent study in Delaware Bay in the United States suggests that the water at high tide on our beaches may be becoming more saline, probably because of evaporation due to climate change. This will likely drive away crabs and other small creatures that live along the water’s edge. This may also have implications for freshwater along our coastlines.

A prayer vigil held recently at Kyaik Monastery, in Kyaikmayaw, Myanmar to protest a proposed coal-fired power plant. (Photo: MNA/Mon Htaw)
A prayer vigil held recently at Kyaik Monastery, in Kyaikmayaw, Myanmar to protest a proposed coal-fired power plant. (Photo: MNA/Mon Htaw)

Burmese town protests proposed coal-fired power plantOver 800 residents and monks held a vigil at a local monastery recently against a proposed 40 MW coal-fired power plant to power a cement factory in the area. Nearly 4,000 villagers also sent a petition to the President and local officials. Mawlamyine Cement Limited never gave them any information on the project, they say.

Think of all the history this tree has lived through… a Bosnian Pine, which is 1,075 years old. (Photo: Dr. Oliver Konter, Mainz)
Think of all the history this tree has lived through… a Bosnian Pine, which is 1,075 years old. (Photo: Dr. Oliver Konter, Mainz)

The oldest tree in Europe: Scientists have discovered what they say is the oldest tree in Europe. It’s at least 1,075 years old and it is a Bosnian Pine, found in the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece.  The scientists have called it Adonis, after the Greek god of beauty.


2 thoughts on “Environment Stories: Trash Free Waters, Manatees and the Oldest Tree in Europe: Sunday, August 21, 2016

  1. I used to do this for NJCA members long ago (collect environment stories and send out a bulletin by email). It was hard to keep it up but I’m glad you are doing it! We didn’t have blogs and social media back then…how things have changed.

    Like

    1. Yes – there are so many useful, relevant and sometimes just plain curious stories around that it’s easy to miss, not just in Jamaica. I told myself “ten stories” and it’s easy to find ten good ones every week. Yes, times have changed haven’t they (I used to send out emails like that from the US Embassy too, to some of our mailing lists). Please share with your contacts or former contacts at NJCA, Wendy! All the best.

      Like

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