Environment and Climate Change Stories: Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World: May 6, 2017

I have completely dropped the ball on this regular post (it used to be regular!) and so am trying to redeem myself by making it a “weekend special” again. There is so much very important news in this area that you may have missed… Here goes. Please click on the coloured links for more information.

Jamaica and the Caribbean:

Naturalist Wendy Lee shared this on Facebook some time ago: “This, believe it or not, is currently an area designated as a bauxite reserve. It is also the eastern-most section of the Cockpit Country and recommended for protection by the vast majority of people who were consulted under the GOJ’s Cockpit Country Boundary Study. It is home to at least 27 of Jamaica’s 29 endemic birds and the source of my livelihood as a birding guide.” Cockpit Country must be closed to mining and quarrying!

Cockpit Country boundaries: The Holness Administration has decided to conduct an independent assessment of the complex issue of determining the boundaries of the precious Cockpit Country – an issue that has been dragging on for years now. This assessment will be completed and a decision made on the matter this year, said Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz in his contribution to the sectoral debate in the Lower House on April 25. I will obtain the full text of Minister Vaz’s wide-ranging presentation and post it on this blog as soon as possible.

Closed season on spiny lobster: The Fisheries Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries advised the public that the annual Closed Season for spiny lobsters commenced on April 1 and ends on June 30, 2017. There are new regulations, detailed on their website. There is a J$3 million fine for breaches.

A pelican gets a clean up after the oil spill in Trinidad, at the Wildlife Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre in Petit Valley, Saint George. (Photo: Shira Mohammed, Facebook)

Oil spill in Trinidad impacts marine life: Petrotrin says around 300 barrels of oil washed into the Guaracara River in Trinidad after a leak in one of its storage tanks on April 23 – severely affecting marine life including fish and seabirds. On May 1, Trinidad’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries conceded that the spill had stretched to the Venezuelan coastline. The Wildlife Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre, which received and rescued dozens of oiled seabirds, noted: The toxic chemicals from our Tar-like crude are lethal to birds. It is absorbed through their skin and mucus membranes and many we cleaned had pneumonia and bloody mucus in their air passage. Most of them had the tarry material coating the inside of their mouth, pouch and down their throats to the sphincter muscle. Presumably, in diving after fish at sea, they had encountered the oil stream hidden below the surface. Everyone who worked on them felt traumatized by the condition of these living creatures trying desperately, through their suffering, to hang onto life.. Seeing them, yesterday, in a little group out at sea with the sunshine and the magnificent backdrop of Trinidad’s North Coast,was an inspiring and gratifying experience.

An aerial view of the Cayemites, part of a new protected area in Haiti. (Photo: Bruno Le Bansais)

The Government of Haiti declared seven new protected areas on April 7, including two marine protected areas, with technical assistance from UN Environment Haiti and Society Audubon Haiti, and financial support from the Government of Norway. The two marine protected areas are Jeremie-Abricot and Baradères-Cayémites, both located in the Grande Anse Department of Haiti (Grand Sud region). They are classified as “protected areas with sustainable use of natural resources” – the most flexible management category within the International Union for Conservation of Nature protected areas categories system.

The plastic/styrofoam committee: The multi-stakeholder working group set up to deal with the use and disposal of plastic packaging materials in Jamaica and its impact on the environment, held its first meeting on May 4 at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.The group is chaired by Dr Parris Lyew Ayee Jr, with support from Recycling Partners of Jamaica Limited and will focus on the management of plastic bags as well as a ban on Styrofoam containers.

You may have missed:

Jamaica Environment Trust’s “Big Up Wi Beach” research competition under the Clean Coasts Project for schools wrapped up last week. Marvellous presentations by all the schools (some of them quite far from any beach!) Congratulations again to Morant Bay High School (1st), Spalding High School (2nd) and Bustamante High School (3rd) and to Spalding’s articulate Ms. Kimberlin Gauze (Best Presenter). 

BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference will take place in Topes de Collantes, southern Cuba from July 13 – 17 this year. Deadline for Call for Papers is tomorrow (Sunday, May 7) at midnight. Full details on the BirdsCaribbean website. Enrol now!

Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation’s fundraising Green Run has been rescheduled. Here is the new date! Get a group together and participate – for a good cause, and for Mother Nature too!

In St. Lucia there is growing concern over a proposed horse racing/casino/villa development called Pearl of the Caribbean, which threatens the Maria Islands Nature Reserve – home to several endangered species.

Big ups to Shanique Shand, Miss Kingston and St. Andrew Festival Queen 2016, who recently organized a cleanup of Sirgany beach along with students of Denham Town Primary. These individual efforts DO make a difference! (Photo: NEPA)

The World:

Protecting Tanzania’s Cloud Forest at Grassroots Level: Local residents who once contributed to the destruction of precious cloud forest in Tanzania’s Amani Nature Reserve through poaching, illegal mining and subsistence farming are now focused on sustainable livelihoods such as beekeeping, fish ponds – and eco-tourism. Many nature reserves globally are still at risk from unsustainable activities by locals seeking to make a living, resulting in deforestation. This is a good example of alternatives!

Local residents plant trees in holes left by illegal mining in the Amani Nature Reserve, a place of huge biodiversity. (Photo: Deutsche Welle)

Nature is good for you! A recent study by Oregon University has found that regular contact with the natural environment enhances people’s wellbeing and health, as well as helps sustain cultural and family links. It was also important for people to know that their natural resources are being well managed.

World Environment Day is June 5 and the UN Environment Program’s theme is: Connecting People With Nature. #WithNature Contribute to “the world’s biggest photo album” by sharing a photo or video of a favourite place in nature. What local events does Jamaican have planned?

Tiananmen Square in a sandstorm in Beijing, China. Photograph: Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock

China’s air pollution was exacerbated this week by a huge sandstorm, raising the  levels of PM10, a tiny inhalable particle linked to a variety of lung complaints, to above 2,000 micrograms per cubic metre. Air pollution in northern China and Beijing in particular has not improved much since industrial activity around the capital city has increased. Another growing problem, according to Greenpeace, is the threat of desertification caused by deforestation, urbanisation and industrial developments. 20 per cent of China’s land area is desert.

Speaking of air pollution, British lawyers have filed a class action suit against the Government on behalf of asthma sufferers, over its failure to reduce pollution from diesel and other vehicle emissions. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, primarily from diesel traffic, have been at illegal levels in almost 90% of urban areas in the UK since 2010. According to the World Health Organisation ambient (outdoor) air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.

Coral reefs, the Blue Economy and TourismHealthy coral reefs attract tourists from around the world, supporting coastal economies. With anticipated global growth rates of more than 3.5%, coastal and marine tourism is projected to be the largest value-adding segment of the ocean economy by 2030, at 26%. In total, coral reefs’ global value is estimated at US$36 billion annually. The Nature Conservancy’s Mapping Ocean Wealth (MOW) initiative has been gathering data and recently won the Tourism Innovation for Tomorrow Award from the World Travel & Tourism Council. The Conservancy’s Atlas of Ocean Wealth and Online Mapping Portal is a valuable resource.

Climate Change Quote of the Week:

“As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.” – Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

President Barack Obama speaks at the Yosemite National Park in June, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

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