Conservation in the news: 5-11 June 2017

Conservation Watch’s round-up of the week’s news on national parks, protected areas and conservation in the Global South.

For regular updates, follow @conserwatch on Twitter.

5 June 2017

Social Justice or Forest Conservation? Cross-Regional Comparisons Reveal a False Trade-Off
By Prakash Kashwan, New Security Beat, 5 June 2017
The present understanding of the relationship between environmental conservation and social justice, two of the greatest challenges of our times, is fraught with multiple confusions, especially in the context of developing countries.
UN agency reports blame deforestation on poor people’s “inappropriate use of wood and other resources for cooking, heating, housing, and crafts” while ignoring the massively wasteful lifestyles of the rich, including those living within the poor countries in the Global South. On the other hand, recent scholarly research links indigenous land rights to successful environmental outcomes – yet, offers little guidance as to why the effectiveness of indigenous land rights statutes varies significantly across different countries.

Scaling up conservation finance (part two)
Environmental Finance, 5 June 2017
In the second and final part of this roundtable discussion on conservation finance, participants focussed on how conservation projects could be scaled up and what lessons could be learned from the carbon markets.
Lisa Wong: I think when we are talking about conservation finance, there is no one size that fits all. There are some projects that, for one reason or another, will stay small. We want to build a healthy conservation investment market that supports different types of projects and initiatives in different phases of their life, as in traditional markets.
Richard Burrett: You are right. I think there are a whole range of things that we have to do, if we are going to deliver the scale. What is still missing are the price signals that cause us to stop doing certain things and start financing others.

Gabon to create one of Africa’s largest marine protected areas
By Emma Ledger, The Independent, 5 June 2017
Gabon today showed its commitment to wildlife extends beyond the government’s determination to protect the forest elephant with the announcement that it will now be creating one of Africa’s largest ever marine protected areas.
The new network, consisting of nine new national marine parks and 11 new aquatic reserves, means that combined with the country’s three existing marine zones some 53,000 square kilometres of ocean will be protected.
The announcement comes at a time when marine biodiversity is seriously threatened. More than 70 percent of the world’s fish stocks are either overexploited or have collapsed and the majority of coral reefs have been damaged. Yet, only around four percent of oceans globally are currently formally protected by marine protected areas.

UNDP urges PNG to protect its biodiversity on World Environment Day June 5
UNDP, 5 June 2017
On World Environment Day, representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) urged Papua New Guineans to support further protections for the country’s unique environment.
World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action around the globe and takes place on 5 June every year. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘connecting people with nature’.
“Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most spectacular natural environment in the world. Although the country makes up less than one per cent of the global land area, it contains more than seven per cent of the world’s biodiversity,” said Roy Trivedy, UNDP Resident Representative and the UN Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

6 June 2017

New attempt at legislation allowing geothermal development in parks in Costa Rica
By Alexander Richter, Think Geoenergy, 6 June 2017
A new legislative effort has been launched in Costa Rica. With the planned legislation it is proposed to allow the exploration and exploitation of geothermal resources in protected areas of the country, as reported by local media.
This topic has been popping up again and again over recent years, based on studies by the state-utility ICE (the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity), which estimates a potential of up to 875 MW of geothermal power generation capacity in Costa Rica.
The current installed geothermal power generation capacity in the country is at 195 MW.

Protectors unprotected: Forest guards underpaid, overworked in India’s tiger reserves
By Malavika Vyawahare, Hindustan Times, 6 June 2017
On a July morning two years ago, a patrol team in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand set out on its daily round. They had been out only a few minutes when Jai Kishen (42), who was lagging behind the others, sensed movement behind him. In a flash, a tiger was upon him.
Kishen miraculously survived the attack. His elder brother, Hari Ram was not so lucky. Last year in April, Hari was killed by a tiger when he had gone out to extinguish a forest fire in the night.
For these guards, life at its worst means dodging forest fires, only to fall into the mouth of a tiger. If a wild animal doesn’t maul you first, there is always the threat of a disease looming in the jungles.

[India] Assam: Floods hit Kaziranga National Park, over 13000 people affected
By Manoj Anand, The Deccan Chronicle, 6 June 2017
The first wave of flood has hit the Kaziranga National Park and over 13,000 people in Assam.
Disclosing that over 30 per cent areas of 858 sq km area of the park has already been inundated in the floodwater, the park authorities said that almost all the low-lying areas of the park are under water and animals have started moving towards the hills of Karbi Anglong district.
Pointing out that park authorities have strengthened security as poachers take advantage of the flood to kill animals, particularly one-horned rhinos, park authorities said that they could not complete the construction of 33 highlands meant to provide shelter to animals during the floods.

Two rangers shot dead in Kenya’s Laikipia conservation area
By Daniel Wesangula, The Guardian, 6 June 2017
Two game rangers have been shot dead in Kenya’s restive north while on a mission to recover stolen cattle.
For the last year, Laikipia, one of Kenya’s most important wildlife regions, has been the scene of vicious farm invasions and battles between private ranch owners and communities bordering them.
Tens of people have been killed or injured as a ravaging drought has driven armed nomadic herders into privately owned conservancies and farms. It is also believed the problem is driven by political tensions, in part due to the ethnic and geographic diversity of the area. Laikipia straddles counties divided by those who support the government, and those who oppose it, and tensions are particularly rife as the country prepares for its general election in August.

Poachers in Myanmar killing elephants for their skins
By Elizabeth Shim, UPI, 6 June 2017
High demand for elephant skin is threatening the survival of the animals in Myanmar, the World Wildlife Fund says.
Poachers in the Southeast Asian country have turned to slaughtering the animals for their skin as the ivory trade dwindled under pressure from wildlife conservation advocates.
There are about 1,400-2,000 wild elephants in Myanmar, according to Coconuts Yangon.
The number of the animals being killed has doubled in recent months. Male, female and baby elephants are being targeted for their skin, which buyers believe bring the wearer good luck when it is worn like jewelry, the report states.

Invasive alien plant control assessed for the Kruger National Park in South Africa
Phys.org, 6 June 2017
Along with urban and agricultural encroachment and pollution mitigation, managing invasive alien species is a key intervention needed to protect biodiversity. Unfortunately, on a global scale there are not enough funds to meet the requirements for effective conservation everywhere, which means that scarce funds need to be allocated where they can be used most efficiently.
In order to find out whether the historical measures undertaken at the Kruger National Park in South Africa have been effective and optimised, researchers led by Prof. Brian W. van Wilgen of Stellenbosch University assessed the invasive alien plant control operations in the protected area over several decades. Their findings and recommendations are published in the open access journal Neobiota.

7 June 2017

[Equatorial Guinea] Conservation in Africa’s Only Spanish-Speaking Nation
By Christian Barrientos, WCS, 7 June 2017
Equatorial Guinea is located in the heart of the Gulf of Guinea, a biologically rich area of Africa where it’s possible to see an elephant, a humpback whale, and a leatherback sea turtle all in the same day.
WCS’s offices in Equatorial Guinea were opened at the beginning of 2015 and currently we work in three coastal protected areas, with five communities, and support the work of the government’s national protected area agency, INDEFOR-AP, in those areas and in the management of the country’s whole protected area system.
WCS-Equatorial Guinea will work on achieving to have more than 10 percent of the marine areas in the country protected through the design and implementation of a marine protected area (MPA) network by 2020. The country currently has no MPA’s but a huge exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with globally important biodiversity thanks to the islands found there.

[Philippines] More funds needed for protected areas
By Justin K. Vestil, SunStar, 7 June 2017
A conservationist urged the National Government to update the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and put up an adequate budget for the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).
This, after discovering that more people have encroached on the CCPL, causing forest fragmentation and diminishing biodiversity. Some of these illegal settlers have also encroached on strict protected zones.
In her speech before CCPL stakeholders during the 10th anniversary of the passage of Republic Act 9486 (CCPL law) yesterday, Aida Granert of the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation Inc. urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to hasten the updating of the IRR for the CCPL and to increase its budget. Granert, a member of the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) for the CCPL, said that little efforts have been done to implement its provisions since the law was passed 10 years ago. She said the CCPL is supported by a DENR budget that she believes to be “woefully inadequate.”

8 June 2017

Fighting to protect rhinos in India’s wildlife parks
By Shreya Dasgupta, Pacific Standard, 8 June 2017
On the evening of January 13th, 2013, Deba Kumar Datta was on his way to a remote camp inside Manas National Park, a 193-square-mile protected area in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.
Datta was excited that Sunday. It was the beginning of the Magh Bihu harvest festival in Assam. The day also marked Datta’s fifth anniversary at Manas National Park. As a senior project officer with World Wildlife Fund India, he had spent the last five years tracking the movements of greater one-horned rhinoceros that had only recently been reintroduced to the park.
Many of these rhinos—brought in from different parts of Assam—were thriving in their new residence, and Datta was keen to celebrate his joy with some forest guards. But his happiness was short-lived.

9 June 2017

[Cambodia] Florican population faces extinction threat
By Phak Seangly and Jovina Chua, Phnom Penh Post, 9 June 2017
The increase in commercial dry-season rice cultivation in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap floodplain is threatening the survival of the critically endangered Bengal florican, a new study suggests.
Conducted by researchers from the Imperial College of London, the University of Oxford and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the study, which was published in the international journal of conservation Oryx on May 29, surveyed 616 households in 21 villages on their livelihood activities at the Tonle Sap Floodplain Protected Landscape in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.
Results showed a sharp increase in the number of farmers who have adopted dry-season rice cultivation since 2005. Among these farmers, almost half grew more than one crop per year.
According to the study, not only does the rice cultivation encroach on breeding areas, agro-chemical use affects the species’ food source.

[Mexico] Illegal developments shut down on Holbox
Mexico News Dails, 9 June 2017
The federal environmental agency Profepa has closed down 36 tourism-related projects on Isla Holbox in Quintana Roo, calling them illegal.
The developments were located in coastal areas of the island and within the limits of the natural protected area of Yum Balam. Officials described them as being “outside the law.”
Profepa chief Guillermo Haro Belchez flew over the island to assess the environmental impact in several areas, including one where a brush fire took place last year.
Profepa issued a statement saying Haro had confirmed that area’s “natural recovery” after a case of arson last September that consumed 87 hectares of the natural protected area.

Peru: Indigenous women can protect the Amazon forest – if only their rights are respected
By Léa Surugue, International Business Times, 9 June 2017
In the depths of the lush, dense tropical forest that covers vast swathes of Peru, indigenous women are fighting for their rights and for the fate of their lands.
For generations, the abundant tropical vegetation has provided them with shelter, and has been the privileged place they turned to for food and medicine.
But poor legal protection at a national level means women have often been unable to take meaningful decisions within their communities regarding the management and conservation of forests.
As climate change intensifies, coupled with the threat of logging and mining activities, Peru’s indigenous women are losing valuable opportunities to protect the green areas that are so central to their livelihood – and to the future of the planet.

[Tibet] Meet the villagers protecting biodiversity on the top of the world
By Lü Zhi, The Third Pole, 9 June 2017
It was a chilly February day and Dangwen and his wildlife monitoring team were on patrol along the upper reaches of the Yangtze river. The river was frozen solid — easy for poachers to walk over.
That day they encountered 220 blue sheep, five white-lipped deer, and a line of otter footprints. On the infrared camera traps they had set up throughout the valley, three snow leopards appeared — a mother and two cubs.
Dangwen comes from Yunta, a village located in Sanjiangyuan, Qinghai Province on the Tibetan Plateau. The 400,000 km² Sanjiangyuan area serves as an important habitat for rich and unique biodiversity, and is a watershed of the three largest rivers in Asia: the Yellow, the Yangtze and the Mekong, which serve one billion people downstream.

10 June 2017

[Kenya] Why African Court judgment matters for Ogieks and us all
By Liz Alden Wily, The Star, 10 June 2017
‘A historic judgment’, ‘a first for Africa’s indigenous peoples’, ‘a victory for land rights’, ‘a first for the African Court’, are among press descriptions of the judgment by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on May 26, 2017. What does it all mean?
First, let us look at the case. Application No. 006/2012 that was brought to the still-new African Court (2006) by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an AU agency with its headquarters in Banjul. The Commission acted on behalf of the Mau Ogiek against the Government of Kenya.
The Ogiek sought principally: Recognition of Mau Forest as their ancestral home, and that their occupation was not the cause of its evident destruction; that the land be formally titled to them as their communal property; and that illegally granted titles and concessions over their forest territory be rescinded. The Commission alleged that the government had violated eight Articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the founding continental law to which all member states of the African Union are bound. The case was precipitated by (yet another) eviction notice to the Ogiek in October 2009.

11 June 2017

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