The environment in the news



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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Monday, 31 July 2006



UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

  • City has poor air quality, says Unep (Nation)

  • Environment group wants Israel to pay for ‘damage’; Kuwait’s GLG slams (Arab organizations Arab Times)

  • Israelis edge closer to war with Syria (Telegraph-UK)

  • UN environment-backed pollution centre responding to requests from Lebanon over oil slick emergency (Relief Web)

  • Marée noire au Liban: le PNUE s'inquiète pour l'environnement (Le Monde)

  • Schwarze Flut im Mittelmeer (Agence France Presse)

  • 2050 could mean the end for gorillas (Cape Argus)

  • Le PNUE préoccupé par la qualité de l`air en Afrique (Angola Press)

  • Agribusiness Outlook: The ACP Nations Sweep Development (The Bahama Journal)

  • Oil slick and environmental consequences of conflict in the (Middle East Relief Web)

  • ALGERIE : Tourisme : l’avenir est au Sahara (El-annabi)

  • China trata de revertir la degradación ambiental en el Mar Meridional (Xinhua)

  • The Mangroves: an undervalued ecosystem (Afrol News)

  • UN concerned about Lebanon oil slick (Agence France Presse)





Other Environment News

  • Fuel oil and fumes spill from power plant bombed by Israelis (BOSTON GLOBE)

  • Casualties of War: Lebanon?s Trees, Air and Sea (NY TIMES)

  • On the Roof of Peru, Omens in the Ice (WASHINGTON POST)

  • Scientists Untangle Seaweed's Effect on Other Species (ENN)

  • Coalition of Wilderness, Wildlife Groups Call For More Time to Comment on Proposed Rule Targeting Wildlife (ENN)

  • Car Carrier Disabled, Leaking Fuel South of Aleutians (ENS)

  • MPs Analyse Effects of War On Environment (Angola Press Agency

  • Major oilspill hits west Russia (BB-UK)



Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROAP

  • ROWA


Other UN News


  • UN Daily News of 28 July 2006

  • S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 28 July 2006
Nairobi: City has poor air quality, says Unep

Story by NATION Correspondent

Publication Date: 7/31/2006

Nairobi is among cities with poor air quality due to pollution and burning of waste products, a UN agency has said.

United Nations Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner said poor fuel quality and infrastructure coupled with lack of air quality and emission standards have worsened the situation, according to studies.

Speaking in Nairobi during a conference on better air quality, Mr Steiner said efforts should be made to protect the environment as most cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are polluted.

He said that in Lagos, Nigeria, the level of small particles in the air is high while there is plenty of lead in Nairobi. He attributed the high level of lead to the use of leaded petrol before the country turned to unleaded gasoline.



Arab Times: Environment group wants Israel to pay for ‘damage’; Kuwait’s GLG slams Arab organizations

(Also in Associated Press…
KUWAIT CITY: Chairman and General Coordinator Khaled Al-Hajri, of Kuwait’s Green Line Group (GLG) has expressed his surprise at the Arab Civil Communities Organizations for not doing enough to condemn the environmental destruction wrought by the Israeli war machinery upon Lebanon and Palestine, says a press release issued by the group. These organizations have lost their credibility, Al-Hajri added and the statements of condemnation issued by these organizations are not good enough. He stated that the Green Line Group has prepared a plan to save and rehabilitate the environment in Lebanon and Gaza Strip and has submitted this plan to responsible officials of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) for action. The group also wants Israel to compensate Lebanon for the damage to the environment because of the war.
Al-Hajri said the plan must be implemented without delay once the warring parties agree to a ceasefire. Specialized teams, he said, must be dispatched to both Lebanon and Palestine to conduct a thorough study and estimate the extent of destruction caused by Israel to the environment. Al-Hajri said the study must be then forwarded to Director of UNEP and the UN Secretary-General to be included in the agenda of the UN General Assembly Meeting.
The following is the seven-point plan produced and presented by GLG:
* The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) must declare its stand on the Israeli aggression.

* UNEP must begin the implementation of the plan which has been approved by the Green Line Group (GLG) for Lebanon and Gaza Strip.

* UNEP must provide foreign and Arab environment organizations a formula according to which each organization can participate in the plan according to its individual capacity.

* The UNEP must dispatch a specialized team to the area immediately following a ceasefire to study the extent of damage and destruction caused by Israel to Gaza Strip and Lebanon’s infrastructure. The study must then be forwarded to Director of UNEP and the UN Secretary-General to be included in the agenda of UN General Assembly Meeting.
* The UNEP must hold an international conference to highlight the destruction caused by the Israeli aggression and invite the world nations to participate in the rehabilitation program.
* Prepare a memo holding the Israeli government responsible for the unjustified aggression on the environment and violation of human rights. This memo must also be submitted to UN judiciary for review.
* The UNEP must send an official letter to the Israeli government holding Tel Aviv responsible for the aggression on the environment and violation of human rights. The UNEP must also request Israel to pay compensation for destruction of the environment.
Al-Hajri added the group will follow up the implementation of its plan. To top it all, a black coat of oil now covers the Lebanese capital’s once-beautiful sandy Mediterranean shore, spilled from a power plant that was knocked down by Israeli warplanes two weeks ago. Fishermen say hundreds of oil-coated fish have been washed ashore in what is the country’s worst ever environmental disaster.

____________________________________________________________________________________________


Telegraph (UK): Israelis edge closer to war with Syria

By Michael Hirst and Harry de Quetteville in Jerusalem

(Filed: 30/07/2006)

Israel and Syria appeared to be edging closer to direct military confrontation last night after tit-for-tat attacks around the Lebanese border and the revelation that a new type of long-range missile fired into Israel by Hezbollah was built in Syria.

Tension between the two countries over the war in Lebanon was growing as both Tel Aviv and Damascus readied their forces for the possibility of a direct clash. Israeli intelligence reported that Syrian forces had been put onto their highest state of alert, while Israel has called up 15,000 reservists who many believe will be despatched as reinforcements to the disputed Golan Heights, between the two countries.

Amir Peretz



Israel's defence minister Amir Peretz
Last night an explosives expert with the Israeli police concluded that the "unknown" missile fired by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah at the town of Afula on Friday, 30 miles inside the Israeli border, was Syrian-made, and was capable of reaching Tel Aviv, the country's largest city.
Earlier in the day, Israeli warplanes struck Masnaa, the main crossing point between Lebanon and Syria, with three missiles leaving craters in the middle of the road, forcing the border to close. Witnesses said the Israelis targeted and destroyed the last building before the Syrian border.
On Thursday Syria claimed to have shot down an Israeli spy plane in the same area, flying on the Lebanese side of the border. Israel, which admitted only to a "technical fault", uses unmanned "drones" to locate weapons convoys heading from Syria towards Hezbollah's strongholds within Lebanon, in order for the Israeli air force to strike the convoys before they can reach the front line.
Israel's defence minister, Amir Peretz, has repeatedly ruled out armed conflict with Syria, but other signals point to both sides preparing their forces for the possibility of precisely such a battle, which would mark a dramatic and dangerous escalation in the crisis that began when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, earlier this month.

Israeli anger at the continuing missile-smuggling operation across Syria's border, thought to include both the rockets used against Israel and their launchers, will be heightened by comments by Hezbollah's elusive leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. He vowed to strike cities in the heart of Israel, declaring that the Jewish state had failed to win any military victory after days of bloody clashes with his fighters.

There are fears within Israeli military circles that an attack on a Syrian target could trigger a Scud missile assault by Damascus on Israeli military or civilian locations.
Nasrallah boasted on television that the "legendary resistance" put up by his own fighters was behind the growing chorus of calls for a political settlement of the conflict. More rockets would be fired at cities in central Israel, he said.
As the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon worsened, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) expressed "grave concern" at the damage to the Lebanese coastline from an oil-slick, caused by Israel's bombing earlier this month of a power plant, which sent thousands of tons of fuel oil gushing into the sea. Lebanon's environment minister, Yacub Sarraf, said the Mediterranean was threatened by its "worst ever" environmental disaster.
Israel rejected as unnecessary a United Nations plea for a three-day truce to aid civilians trapped by fighting, as its forces pulled out of the Lebanese border town of Bint Jbail, the scene of fierce fighting in recent days. Shortly after the announcement, an Israeli air strike on a house in Lebanon killed a woman and six children.
But in a softening of Israel's position that could help pave the way for an eventual ceasefire and deployment of an international "stabilisation force" in southern Lebanon, a senior foreign ministry official said Israel would not demand the immediate disarming of Hezbollah in any deal to end the fighting.
Food, medicine and other humanitarian relief was last night piling up in Beirut, but only a trickle was reaching the tens of thousands of Lebanese trapped in the war zone in the south. Israel has promised safe passage for aid, and yesterday brought a UN observer into a military control room to oversee its transfer, but officials said the process was cumbersome.

Relief Web: UN environment-backed pollution centre responding to requests from Lebanon over oil slick emergency

(Aslo in AFP, Cosmos, ENS…)

Experts on Stand-by for Sea and Shoreline Clean Up
30 July 2006, Nairobi--The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today expressed grave concern over the environmental situation unfolding off the Lebanese coast.
An oil slick, caused by the destruction of the Jiyyeh power utility 30km south of Beirut after being struck by Israeli bombs, is now reported to be affecting up to 80 km of the Lebanese coastline and threatening the Syrian one too.
Achim Steiner, a UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP’s Executive Director, said requests of assistance from the government of Lebanon were being responded to by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) based in Malta.
REMPEC, administered by the UN International Maritime Organization and part UNEP’s Regional Seas Network, is giving daily advice to the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment on how to tackle the heavy fuel oil slick.
The Center has also requested assistance for equipment, personnel and funding from governments who are parties to the Barcelona Convention, the regional Mediterranean environment treaty.
So far Algeria, Cyprus, the European Community, France, Malta and Spain have responded positively.
The Center is also putting together a team of leading experts ready to assist with the clean up when hostilities cease and has activated its Mediterranean Assistance Unit to mobilize key pollution control centers in the region.
These include CEDRE- the Centre de Documentation, de Recherche et d'Expérimentations sur les Pollutions Accidentelles des Eaux- based in Brest, France’ and FEDERCHIMICA—the Federazione Nazionale dell’Industria Chimica-, the Italian National Federation of Chemical Industry with its headquarters in Milano.

Another is ICRAM- Istituto Centrale per la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica Applicata al Mare, an Italian research institute specialized in environmental aspects of spill response and post-incident response activities located in Rome.

Meanwhile the joint UNEP/OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Environment Unit is also on standby to send a team and is closely monitoring the situation. The joint unit is also looking at how it can support REMPEC’s fund raising efforts.
Mr Steiner said:” The government of Lebanon has requested international assistance from the United Nations and we stand ready to do all we can as soon as it is possible to carry out this urgent work We share the Lebanese authorities’ concerns over the impact on coastal communities who are being affected by an environmental tragedy which is rapidly taking on a national but also a regional dimension. We must also be concerned about the short and long term impacts on the marine environment including the biodiversity upon which so many people depend for their livelihoods and living via tourism and fishing,” he added.
Mr Steiner said he was also concerned about the humanitarian and environmental impacts linked with strikes on other infrastructure like airports and sea ports and the likely pollution resulting.
“Firstly our thoughts are with the suffering of the civilian population and the immediate crisis of the oil slick. But when the conflict is over, we must do all we can to rapidly pin point pollution hotspots in rivers, in the air, in the sea and on the land which can have a detrimental impact on human health and well being. Other sites, from ports to industrial facilities, have been struck which may be leaking toxic chemicals into the environment putting at risk local populations and aid workers,” added Mr Steiner.
He said the joint UNEP/OCHA environment unit was on standby to also deal with these wider issues and had extensive expertise in the field.

Mr Steiner added that longer term post conflict reconstruction issues would be addressed by UNEP’s Post Conflict Assessment Branch which has made assessments and formulated action plans in several post conflict situation from the Balkans through to Afghanistan and Iraq.

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 20 7623084 or E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org
Or Elisabeth Waechter, Associate Media Officer, on Tel: +254 20 7623088, E-mail: Elisabeth.waechter@unep.org
____________________________________________________________________________________________


Le Monde: Marée noire au Liban: le PNUE s'inquiète pour l'environnement

AFP 29.07.06 | 17h46
[Also in: Cyberpresse, L'Orient-Le Jour, ...]

Le programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) a exprimé samedi ses "sérieuses inquiétudes" quant à la situation environnementale sur la côté libanaise, où près de 15.000 tonnes de mazout se sont déversées dans la mer après un bombardement israélien.

Le PNUE, basé à Nairobi, a affirmé que la marée noire, provoquée par la destruction des réservoirs de la centrale électrique de Jiyé (30 km au sud de Beyrouth), touche la côté libanaise sur près de 80 kilomètres et menace la côte syrienne.

"Nous partageons les inquiétudes des autorités libanaises sur l'impact de cet événement sur les communautés côtières. Cette tragédie environnementale possède une dimension nationale mais aussi régionale", a déclaré le directeur du PNUE, Achim Steiner, dans un communiqué.

"Nous devons prendre en compte les impacts à court et long termes de la catastrophe sur l'environnement marin et sur la biodiversité, d'autant que beaucoup de personnes vivent du tourisme et de la pêche", a-t-il ajouté.

"Le gouvernement du Liban a demandé l'aide des Nations unies et nous nous tenons prêts à faire tout ce que nous pouvons dès qu'il sera possible d'intervenir", a-t-il dit.

Le ministre libanais de l'Environnement, Yacoub Sarraf, avait assuré à l'AFP un peu plus tôt samedi que la Méditerranée était menacée par la plus grande catastrophe écologique de son histoire.

L'Union européenne a annoncé vendredi qu'elle allait envoyer du matériel spécialisé et des experts.


____________________________________________________________________________


Agence France Presse: Schwarze Flut im Mittelmeer

31.7.2006

[appears in Berliner Zeitung, Tagesspiegel, Neues Deutschland, Deutschlandradio, Die Welt, Mittelbayerische, ...]

BEIRUT. Nach israelischen Luftangriffen auf ein libanesisches Kraftwerk droht im Mittelmeer eine nie da gewesene Umweltkatastrophe: Die israelische Luftwaffe traf beim Beschuss des Kraftwerks Dschije südlich von Beirut mehrere Öltanks, tausende Tonnen Heizöl laufen nun ins Meer, wie die libanesische Regierung und das Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (Unep) am Samstag erklärten. "Es ist zweifelsohne die größte Umweltkatastrophe, die das Mittelmeer jemals erlebt hat", sagte Libanons Umweltminister Yacoub Sarraf. Unep sprach von einer Tragödie: "Wir teilen die Sorge der libanesischen Behörden über die Auswirkungen", hieß es in der Erklärung.

Bisher seien zwischen 10 000 und 15 000 Tonnen Heizöl ins Meer geflossen, sagte der libanesische Umweltminister. Dies könne nicht nur furchtbare Folgen für den Libanon, sondern für alle Länder am östlichen Mittelmeer haben. Bisher hätten sich ähnliche Unfälle nur in offenen Ozeanen ereignet, aber nicht in einem geschlossenen Gewässer wie dem Mittelmeer.

Ein Drittel der Küste verseucht

Inzwischen ist nach Angaben des Ministers ein Drittel der libanesischen Küste betroffen, etwa 70 von 220 Kilometern. Wenn nichts unternommen werde, werde ein weiteres Drittel verseucht. Außerdem werde die Strömung das Öl nach Norden befördern, an die Küsten von Zypern, Syrien, der Türkei und Griechenland. Auch Israel, das im Süden liegt, könne davon betroffen werden, sagte Sarraf.

Tierwelt und Ökosystem würden in Mitleidenschaft gezogen, und mehrere Arten seien vom Aussterben bedroht, warnte der Umweltminister. In der Gegend nisten Meeresschildkröten. Libanesischen Umweltschützern zufolge sind auch Haie und kommerzielle Fischsorten wie Tunfisch betroffen. Die libanesische Regierung hat nach eigenen Angaben weder das Geld noch die Mittel, um gegen die Verschmutzung vorzugehen. Solange Israel seine Seeblockade aufrecht erhalte, könne man nichts gegen die Ölpest tun. Sarraf sagte, er habe bereits Großbritannien, Italien, Spanien, die USA und andere Länder, die Erfahrungen mit solchen Unglücken haben, um Hilfe gebeten. Kuwait habe bereits 40 Tonnen Material geschickt, um das Öl zu binden.

Das in Kenia ansässige Unep erklärte, der Libanon habe die Uno um Hilfe gebeten. "Wir stehen bereit, um alles uns Mögliche zu tun, sobald diese dringenden Arbeiten möglich sind." Das Umweltprogramm sei besorgt über die Auswirkungen der Ölpest. Es handele sich um eine "Umwelttragödie", die rasch die gesamte Region betreffen könnte.

Israel hatte das 30 Kilometer südlich von Beirut gelegene Kraftwerk am 14. und 15. Juli bombardiert und dabei die Öltanks zerstört. Einer der Tanks mit rund 25 000 Tonnen Inhalt steht noch in Flammen und droht zu explodieren. Die Tanks sind nur 25 Meter vom Meer entfernt. Der Umweltminister sagte, es werde 45 bis 50 Millionen US-Dollar (etwa 35 bis 40 Millionen Euro) kosten, die Strände zu reinigen. (AFP)

_____________________________________________________________________________



Cape Argus: 2050 could mean the end for gorillas

(Also in Independent online…)



July 30 2006 at 04:51PM
By Steve Bloomfield
The gorilla is threatened with extinction by the mid-21st century if poaching and destruction of its habitat continue at the current rate, the United Nations (UN) has warned.
Within a decade, three of the four sub-species of the great ape could be wiped out, it says. "Many populations are faced with imminent extinction," said Matthew Woods, of the UN-run Great Apes Survival Project. "It is incredibly serious."
Conservationists have added a new danger to the ever-present threats from hunting, logging and mining - the fall-out from elections to be held at the end of this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the vast central-African nation which is probably home to more gorillas than any other country.
One sub-species, the eastern lowland or Grauer's gorilla, lives entirely within its borders. Two others, the mountain gorilla - famous from Dian Fossey's studies and David Attenborough's filmed encounter with them - and the western lowland gorilla, are also found in the DRC.
War has raged within eastern Congo for more than a decade, killing more than four million people in the bloodiest conflict since World War 1.

Even now, three years after peace deals were signed, 1 200 people die each day from the continuing violence and war-related diseases. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting as militia groups rampage through the countryside, raping and pillaging in towns and villages.

One side effect of the conflict has been the devastating impact on the region's gorillas.
Refugees unable to grow enough crops to feed themselves have been forced to kill gorillas and other large mammals in order to survive.
Conservationists have not only been powerless to protect the animals, with surveys of the remaining gorilla population and other preservation work proving impossible, but several workers have been killed after they were caught up in militia fighting.
The result, in the case of the Grauer's sub-species, is that its numbers are believed to have plummeted by 90 percent over the past 10 years to just 2 000. Some conservationists believe the situation is even worse, but violence has prevented them confirming their suspicions.
The most threatened sub-species is the Cross River gorilla, which inhabits a tiny forested area of west Africa, but the key to the survival of the rest is thought to be the DRC election, the first in the war-torn country for more than 40 years.
Conservationists believe that only a successful outcome to the election can curb the violence and instability, particularly in the country's eastern districts of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, that have decimated gorilla populations.
"The insecurity threatens the animals and the conservation workers, and it prevents tourism, which is seen by many as the salvation of the apes in this area," said Ian Redmond, chief consultant at the Great Apes Survival Project.
Although there are some fears that an end to the fighting could bring an increase in logging, which would further eat away at the gorillas' natural habitat, the risks of continued anarchy are considered to be greater.
In a region where vast swathes of the population live on less than £1 a day, great apes have proved to be an enormous economic asset.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has claimed that more than half of the country's foreign exchange earnings are from tourism, in which mountain gorillas are the star attraction.

A recent UN Environment Programme report on the state of Africa's environment estimated that gorilla tourism brings in roughly £11 million a year to Uganda and Rwanda, where Western tourists are being lured back with some success after the horrors of the 1994 genocide.
But, there is no immediate prospect of persuading tourists to visit the DRC, despite the spectacular scenery of its eastern border country, which is home to mountain and Grauer's gorillas. But Redmond said the election at least offered some prospect of stability. - The Independent on Sunday
# GRAUER'S GORILLA

Also known as eastern lowland gorilla. Forms eastern group with mountain gorilla.


Distribution: Eastern DRC forests.
Gorilla now inhabits just 13% of its historic range.
How vulnerable: Its habitat is war-torn, and Grauer's gorillas have suffered worst from hunting for "bush meat".
How many left: Estimates vary wildly, from as many as 16 000 to 2 000 or fewer.
# MOUNTAIN GORILLA

The best-known sub-species, thanks to David Attenborough and the movie Gorillas in the Mist, based on the story of the scientist Dian Fossey.


Distribution: Virunga range of volcanoes on Uganda-Rwanda-DRC border and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
How vulnerable: Susceptible to a number of threats, from uncontrolled hunting and war to disease, destruction of forest habitat and capture for the illegal pet trade. Considered critically endangered.
How many left: A little over 700.
# WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA

The most numerous and widespread. Distribution: Thick rainforests of Gabon and five neighbouring countries. Now inhabits just over half of its former range.

How vulnerable: Suffers from disease and at the hands of poachers. In areas hard hit by the Ebola virus, over 90% of gorillas have died.

How many left: Estimate of 94 000, though may be higher due to difficulty of surveying habitat.
# CROSS RIVER GORILLA

The other sub-species in the western group. Differs from western lowland gorilla in skull and tooth dimensions.


Distribution: Eight small and isolated populations, separated by densely settled farmlands, in forested hills on the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
How vulnerable: Rated critically endangered.
How many left: About 200.

_____________________________________________________________________________


Angola Press: Le PNUE préoccupé par la qualité de l`air en Afrique

Nairobi, 29/07 - Une nouvelle étude réalisée par le Programme des Nations unies pour l`environnement (PNUE) montre une détérioration rapide de la qualité de l`air dans les villes africaines où la pollution constitue une grande menace pour l`environnement, l`économie et la qualité de vie des populations.

L`étude montre aussi que la mauvaise qualité de l`air a un impact négatif sur la santé des populations, notamment les pauvres, les personnes âgées et les enfants qui souffrent de façon disproportionnée des effets.

Selon l`étude, la pollution urbaine a un impact qui va au-delà des villes en touchant les récoltes et contribue aux problèmes environnementaux globaux comme le changement climatique.

"Le taux d`urbanisation en Afrique est le plus élevé au monde et cela va de pair avec l`augmentation du parc automobile qui sont entre autres à l`origine de la détérioration de la qualité de l`air et ses vagues de conséquences", a déclaré le directeur exécutif du PNUE, Achim Steiner.

Il a invité les partenaires à aider à mettre un terme "aux taux élevés de maladie et de décès liés la pollution de l`air".

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Bahama Journal: Agribusiness Outlook: The ACP Nations Sweep Development

By Godfrey Eneas

The Bahamas is an African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) State and is eligible for the awards as outlined in the following article. This is just a small example of the manner in which other ACP countries are developing technologies to assist them in their development efforts. For too long ACP have been depending on the Developed Countries to invent technologies which can be adapted to meet the needs of developing countries like ACP States.

Most of these ACP States are engaged in science and technology programmes which are geared to meet their needs. This award scheme encourages these kinds of programmes.

ACP countries have chalked up an impressive string of successes in a new sustainable development award, the Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (Seed) Initiative, launched by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Three out of five winners are from ACP regions. The winning projects include an environmentally friendly way of growing rice in East Africa, a community-based marine protected area in Madagascar and a power plant in Nigeria that turns cattle waste into energy. The winners were selected from a pool of over 260 entries from 66 countries, representing 1,200 organizations. They were chosen for their potential to advance sustainable development in their communities and contribute to the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The Seed Awards are not financial, but consist of a flexible package of individually targeted support, including help with gaining access to funders, to give winning partnerships every chance of success.

One winning project being piloted in Ibadan, Nigeria, is turning effluents and waste products from abattoirs into energy to generate income for poor urban communities and reduce the gases linked with climate change. The project treats the abattoir wastes and turns them into a biogas suitable for cooking and other uses.

A further by-product is agricultural-grade fertilizer. The biogas is significantly cheaper than current, commercially available liquefied gases.

Another winner is a joint effort between Cornell University in the US, together with several NGOs and local communities in Cambodia, Madagascar and Sri Lanka, who are partners in an initiative to boost rural incomes through the marketing of indigenous rice varieties grown under environment-friendly conditions. The project involves a production method known as the 'System of Rice Intensification' (SRI), which works without flooding rice paddies and results in stronger plants that need less chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Small rural producers who are taking part are achieving water savings of up to 50% and increased yields of up to 100%.

Still in Madagascar, an experimental, community-led scheme aims to show how partnerships between local people, research institutes and NGOs can deliver marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods by creating the country's first Marine Protected Area (MPA). The project, revolving around the 1,200-strong community of Andavadoaka, is balancing the needs of local fishermen and protection of the area's important coral reefs. Eco-tourism is being promoted as a way of generating income for conservation work, diversifying the local economy and reducing pressure on fish stocks.

Regional Science and Technology Congress.

The following is a brief report by Mrs. Beverly Taylor, Head of the Science and Technology Unit in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, on the participation of Bahamian youth in a Regional Science and Technology Congress which was held in Barbados.

Our youth did extremely well in the Caribbean Youth Science Congress held Monday-Wednesday of last week!

Roosevelt Rolle, head boy of Jack Hayward, (16 years) was the youngest participant from the region invited to attend and present his paper. He was given a special award for the same.

Celesa Fernander received 3rd place in the region for her essay on the topic Youth Opportunities for Employment and Wealth via Agriculture, Science and Technology.

Kipling Thompson of North Andros was also given a special award for his paper. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend due to our failure to get his US visa. Stephanie and Debbie, please see if anything can be done about that because we would certainly wish for him to attend the Environmental Camp in VIERS. Please check with Mrs. Jacqueline Simmons at Foreign Affairs concerning the same.

John Darville, our Youth Ambassador for The Bahamas as well as to CARICOM made a most outstanding and well-received presentation on our effort in Agriculture, Science and Technology in The Bahamas from the youth perspective! Both he and Roosevelt have been elected to the Caribbean Youth Council for Agriculture!!!

They did well!!!! You would have been proud of them!!! I was and I am still beaming!!!

_____________________________________________________________________________


Relief Web: Oil slick and environmental consequences of conflict in the Middle East

While our immediate concern and sympathy lies with the injured, the displaced and the families of the victims of this conflict, long term environmental damage is an inevitable consequence of war.


Greenpeace is calling for an immediate cease fire and an end to the violence and environmental destruction. We also call for efforts to establish long lasting regional stability and peace.
This would also allow urgent and needed humanitarian aid to reach all parts of Lebanon, and for the UN Environment Programme, the World Health Organization and others to begin assessing the environmental damage caused by the bombing.
In the case of the heavy oil flowing into the sea from the bombed storage tanks at the Jiyyeh power station, 30 km south of Beirut, the most important priority is to prevent any further leakage and destruction and which could potentially spread to the entire east Mediterranean coastline.
In the short term the Lebanese authorities are in urgent need of assistance to stem and control the flow of the oil onto its beaches and into its fishing grounds.
In the longer term it could take between 6 and 12 months to clean up the oil from some 100 km of Lebanon's coastline.
The spill is especially threatening since fish spawn and sea turtles nest on Lebanon's coast, including the green turtle which is endangered in the Mediterranean.
Greenpeace urges the international community to work to bring an immediate end to the human suffering and the environmental destruction. _____________________________________________________________________________

El-annabi: ALGERIE : Tourisme : l’avenir est au Sahara

Le Sud recèle d’immenses richesses et potentialités inexploitées


lundi 31 juillet 2006.
Le Sahara algérien, fort d’une grande superficie, d’immenses ressources et de sites féeriques, devient l’espace convoité pour le tourisme. Ses atouts lui donnent plus de chances à la promotion et à la valorisation du tourisme que la région Nord.

Investissement : Le ministère du Tourisme table sur des opérations de réhabilitation des infrastructures hôtelières existantes avec le doublement des capacités d’accueil à l’horizon 2010.

C’est l’endroit par excellence qui fait rêver les étrangers en quête de curiosités, d’exotisme ou tout simplement de détente et de relaxation.

Autour de ces atouts, les pouvoirs publics veulent consacrer plus d’investissements, d’hôtels et de circuits touristiques bien aménagés.

L’Etat, qui joue la carte de l’attractivité de touristes étrangers, a mobilisé des milliards de dinars pour la promotion touristique dans les régions du Sud. Le ministère du Tourisme table sur des opérations de réhabilitation des infrastructures hôtelières existantes avec le doublement des capacités d’accueil à l’horizon 2010.

Toutes les wilayas du Sud sont concernées par ce vaste chantier, qui veut faire de ces espaces arides, des pôles de séduction pour des touristes et des voyageurs de tous les coins du monde. L’heure est à la stratégie et à la planification des ressources qui, certes, paraissent limitées, mais qui sont en plein essor.

Pour ce faire, les zones d’extension touristiques du Sud seront réglementées et protégées de la faune des spéculateurs du foncier et affairistes véreux. Les projets d’investissement seront sélectionnés selon les critères de rentabilité, de création d’emploi, de recours à la main-d’œuvre locale et de respect des normes environnementales. Bref, tout pour ne pas déserter les zones arides.

Le concours des organisations onusiennes telles que le Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (Pnue), l’Unesco et l’Organisation mondiale du tourisme (OMT), est précieux puisqu’il apporte la caution à des programmes concrets, trouvant leur étendue dans le développement durable.

L’idée maîtresse du tourisme dans le désert réside dans la promotion d’un genre particulier de voyages, de randonnées, de découvertes de sites pittoresques, de célébration de fêtes et traditions locales, c’est-à-dire joindre l’utile à l’agréable tout en veillant à mettre en valeur les cultures locales.

Toutefois, il reste à protéger ces sites de l’envahissement des sables. La lutte contre la désertification est devenue la priorité des pouvoirs publics, qui multiplient conférences, séminaires et études d’impact sur l’écosystème.

Il y a aussi la préservation des monuments, des ksour et des oasis de la bêtise humaine. Le contrôle des frontières, les visites guidées par des professionnels et l’implication des services de sécurité dans la gestion sécuritaire de ces espaces sont les clés de la réussite de ce programme ambitieux.

Fayçal A.- infosoir

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Xinhua:China trata de revertir la degradación ambiental en el Mar Meridional

28.7.2006

Un total de 24 proyectos de protección ecológica han sido desarrollados por siete países en el Mar Meridional de China desde 2002, según indicó recientemente un responsable del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA).

En una conferencia celebrada el pasado 24 de julio en Beihai, ciudad costera de la Región Autónoma de la Nacionalidad Zhuang de Guangxi, el doctor John Pernetta valoró altamente el compromiso y los esfuerzos del gobierno chino en la protección ambiental del Mar Meridional.

Bajo el programa denominado "Reversión de la tendencia a la degradación ambiental en el Mar Meridional de China y el Golfo de Tailandia", del que Pernetta es responsable, China ha establecido proyectos de protección en las ciudades de Beihai y Fangchenggang, ambas en Guangxi, y en las ciudades de Shenzhen y Shantou, en la provincia de Guangdong.

Los proyectos desarrollados por China están dirigidos a la conservación de los pastos marinos y los bosques de mangle, así como a la protección de las zonas pantanosas y el control de la contaminación, manifestó Huang Zhengguang, especialista chino en la materia.


Afrol News: The Mangroves: an undervalued ecosystem

Mangroves in the Casamance (southern Senegal)

© afrol News / Rainer Chr. Hennig

afrol News - Historically classified "unhealthy wastelands" or "useless swamps" by development-eager authorities and businesses, the mangrove forests actually are one of the most fascinating resources in tropical Africa. The trees manage to live on the edge between flooding rivers, tidal waves intruding with salt water and the drylands, where they create new land and environs rich in fish, birds, wood and other resources. Finally, their value is being discovered.

The mangroves are a characteristic forest biotope in tropical river estuaries and tidal zones. They constitute an incredible adaptation to the environmental conditions of entering salt, sea water and escaping sweet, riverine water. The forests are highly productive areas and in many places an underdeveloped resource. They still are widespread along the West African coast from Senegal to Congo and locally in East Africa.

Mangrove forests are found at the edge of tropical oceans where regular flooding occurs. Mangrove forests range in stature from mere shrubs to up to 40 meter tall trees. The forests are however characterised by a very low floristic diversity compared with most inland forests in the tropics. The same few species totally dominate wide tracts. This is because only very few plants can tolerate the harsh environment and actually flourish there - mud saturated with salt that frequently is inundated by ocean and river water.
Most land plants are killed by salt, but mangroves are able to filter it out. Most plants die if their roots are drowned in water thus leaving them without oxygen, and in the mud of mangrove swamps, the rotting leaves usually consume all available oxygen. However mangrove trees have developed special kinds of roots that stick up - out of the mud and into the air - to get oxygen.
Mangrove trees have pitchfork-like roots which grow out from the lower part of their trunks. The trees use their roots for additional support. These stilt or prop roots also trap debris, which provides the trees with nutrients, and are also important for stabilising the shoreline. Living on the edge - between river, land and ocean - the mangroves therefore also actively create their own environment, making it liveable for them and other species by stabilising the silt-rich soil and creating a new land environ.

Wildlife


Mangroves are highly productive biotopes and as such have a vibrant, rich and endemic wildlife. Mangrove forests and the salt marshes connected to them provide food and a home for fish, shellfish, molluscs, wildfowl and threatened marine mammals. Most of these species are endemic to the mangroves, meaning they cannot live in any other place. Most of the endemic species are an enormous variety of crabs.

But also many other species need the mangroves in periods of their life. Ducks, geese and other wild birds stop over at coastal wetlands - mostly the mangroves - during migration. Flounder and bluefish use the marshes as nurseries, winter quarters and occasional feeding grounds. The mangroves further offer nursery and breeding grounds for freshwater and marine life - especially shrimp.

The manatees may serve as our example of the many endangered species of the African mangroves. The West African manatees (also called sea cows and sirenias, Trichechus senegalensis) live in rivers, bays, estuaries, and coastal areas.
Although they are marine animals, the manatees are related to neither whales, walrus nor dolphins. Surprisingly, their closest relatives are the elephants. They move freely between freshwater and saltwater habitats. Manatees are slow-moving creatures that feed on aquatic vegetation. Adults range in length from 2.5 to 4.5 meters and may reach nearly 700 kg in weight.
Adult manatees have no natural enemies but in some areas, they are heavily hunted for meat, hides, and oil. Where boat traffic is heavy, the slow manatees are often injured or killed by boat propellers. They are mostly protected by law because of their usefulness in keeping waterways clear of aquatic vegetation. The West African manatee totally depends on the mangrove habitat, but very little is known about the rare species, as they have not been widely studied.
Apart from the manatees, the most characteristic species of the mangroves are the seabirds. Mangroves are an ideal sanctuary for birds, many of which are migratory. Closed mangrove forests provide a secure nesting and feeding habitat for a variety of waders, terns and flycatchers.
According to FAO, the total list of mangrove bird species included between 150 and 250 species. Worldwide, 65 of these are listed as endangered or vulnerable, including for instance the milky stork (Mycteria cinerea), which lives in the rivers of mangroves.

Thus, reserves in the mangroves have turned bird watcher's paradises, where tourists can observe pelicans, pink flamingos, storks and other birds. Indeed, in the mangroves of southern Senegal's Casamance province, bird watching expeditions are a major income source for locals, and authorities in Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Gabon hope to repeat the Senegalese success story.

The mangrove ecosystem

Precise data on global mangrove resources are scarce as this unique ecosystem has been studied surprisingly little. However, a major part of Africa's subtropical and tropical coastline is dominated by mangroves. Estimates are that there are some 16 million hectares of mangrove forests worldwide.


The general distribution of mangroves mostly corresponds to that of tropical forests, but extends somewhat further north and south of the equator, sometimes beyond the tropics. However, over the past several decades, the area covered with mangroves globally has increasingly been reduced as a result of a variety of human activities, such as over-harvesting, freshwater diversion and conversion to other uses.
There are two distinct bio-geographic zones of mangroves in the world: those of West Africa, the Caribbean and America; and those on the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar and the Indo-Pacific region. While the first - the Atlantic region - contain only ten tree species, mangroves of the Indo-Pacific are richer, containing some 40 tree species (excluding palms).
Mangrove forests are considered being vital for healthy coastal ecosystems. The forest detritus - consisting mainly of fallen leaves and branches from the mangroves - provides nutrients for the marine environment and supports immense varieties of sea life in intricate food webs associated directly through detritus or indirectly through the planktonic and algal food chains.
A primary factor of the natural environment that affects mangroves over the long run is the global sea level and its fluctuations. Other shorter-term factors are air temperature, salinity, ocean currents, storms, shore slope, and soil substrate. Most mangroves live on muddy soils, but they may also grow on sand, peat, and coral rock.

If tidal conditions are optimal, mangroves can flourish far inland, along the upper reaches of coastal estuaries. Especially in Western Africa, mangrove forests reach far into the hinterland. River Gambia, the Sine-Saloum river system of Senegal, the Casamance, rivers of Guinea-Bissau, River Niger and Cameroonian rivers are edged by a wide zone of mangroves, sometimes more than 100 kilometres from the outer coast.

In other cases - where vast amounts of sweet water pour into the ocean, entire islands tens of kilometres off the coast may be entirely covered by mangroves, as is the case of most of Guinea-Bissau's Bijagos archipelago. Several of the outer Bijagos islands, such as Ilha de Orango - lie around 100 kilometres from the coast and as such fresh water supply, but in the shallow waters off Guinea-Bissau, salinity is still sufficiently low for trees to filter out salt from the sea water that is mixed up with fresh, river water.
Evolutionary adjustments to varying coastal marine environments have produced some astounding biological characteristics within mangrove plant communities. Certain species of mangroves exclude salt from their systems; others actually excrete the salt they take in via their leaves, roots, or branches. In salt excluding mangrove species, the mangrove root system is so effective filtering out salt that a thirsty traveller could drink fresh water from a cut root, though the tree itself stands in saline soil.

The mangroves as a resource



People mostly have thought of mangroves as noxious impenetrable swamps full of diseases, and they used to be destroyed as a public health measure. But now we know better. Mangroves are very productive coastal resources that are useful in many ways.
Mangrove trees grow well within their special conditions - where no other trees could be planted - and, like the tropical forest, they produce a lot of leaves and other organic matter, detritus. Instead of accumulating in the soil, the leaves fall in the water, where they rot and provide food for microbes and planktons. This again is excellent fish fodder and the areas near mangroves thus often are very important for the fisheries.

Mangroves have proven to be an important source of food and materials for many coastal people. Crabs, clams, oysters, fish and other food are often collected there. Even the mangrove fruits are sometimes eaten.

Also the trees in themselves are useful. Mangrove wood is often collected as firewood, and it can also be used for constructing. The bark has tannin, which has craft and medicinal uses. If properly managed, mangroves can provide timber for construction, charcoal for energy, food for livestock, shellfish for local consumption, and so on. In fact, the natural resource base is that rich, that a Fijian cost benefit analysis analysing a possible conversion of mangroves into agricultural land concluded that this would not increase revenues produced per hectare per annum. Most conversions actually would reduce revenues drastically.
One very important environmental service produces by the mangroves is that they also build land or keep it from being washed away. Mud and sediment are generally washed down rivers and streams. When there is a mangrove swamp at the river's mouth, the water spreads out into the mangroves, and the sediment settles to the bottom where it is trapped by the mangrove roots. As the bottom gets shallower, the mangroves can grow further out, while those on the inside eventually find themselves on dry land, where they are replaced by ordinary land plants.
In this way the mangrove forest advances slowly outward, leaving dry land behind. Even in areas where there are not arriving enough sediments from the rivers to build new land, the mangroves protect the shoreline from being washed away in storms. The roots and trunks break the force of the waves, and the leaves and branches reduce the effects of the wind and rain. There are examples of islands which were built by mangroves, and then were washed away when the mangroves were cut.

Even in the city, mangroves can be important when the city wastes run off and pollute the nearby coastal waters. When these wastes run into a mangrove swamp, they normally are absorbed and used by the plants and animals in the swamp. The swamp filters the water, making use of the nutrients and also absorbing toxics and leaving clean water. As long as cities do not produce too much waste for the mangroves, and the waste does not contain too much toxic from industries, the mangroves are an excellent waste treatment system, and much cheaper than any sewage treatment plant. Mangroves, however, are sensitive to pollution, particularly oil pollution. Too much toxic waste will kill the forest.

Lately, also the value of the mangroves for tourism has been discovered. Senegal in particular has known to appreciate this resource. Two important national parks are based on the mangrove resource - Parc National du Delta du Saloum and Parc National de la Basse Casamance. The Casamance park is located close to the tourist centre Cap Skirring and with its over 200 species of sea birds, it is a popular resort for photo safaris and bird watching excursions.
For Western African countries, poor of lions and elephants, this is a major resource when it comes to eco-tourism. Even in classic "safari countries" such as Kenya and Tanzania, coastal tourism is becoming of great importance, and the coastal national parks are based upon the mangrove and/or coral reef resources.
Several other African nations are in the beginning of a tourism exploitation of their mangrove forests. Guinea-Bissau - the nation geographically most dominated by mangroves - hopes to include its remarkable coastline on UNESCO's World Heritage list and thus market itself as a tourist destination. Sierra Leone and Liberia hope to revive their tourism industry, mainly focusing on their coastline of beaches and mangroves. Gabon during the last years has protected much of its unique mangrove coast and aims at becoming Africa's main ecotourism nation.

Threats to the mangroves and conservation efforts


Today, mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world - disappearing at an accelerating rate, yet with little public notice. Many threats occur. Lenticels in the exposed portions of mangrove roots are highly susceptible to clogging by crude oil and other pollutants, attacks by parasites, and prolonged flooding from artificial dikes or causeways. Over time, environmental stress can kill large numbers of mangrove trees. In addition, the charcoal and timber industries have also severely impacted mangrove forests, as well as tourism and other coastal developments.

But the rapidly expanding shrimp aquaculture industry poses the gravest threat to the world's remaining mangroves. Literally thousands of hectares of lush mangrove forests have been cleared to make room for the artificial shrimp ponds of this boom and bust industry. This highly volatile enterprise has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, leaving devastating forest ruins in its wake.
Mangroves in most countries do not enjoy any special protection. On the contrary: Until recently, mangrove forests have been classified by many governments and industries alike as "wastelands", or useless swamps.
This erroneous designation has made it easier to exploit mangrove forests as cheap and unprotected sources of land and water for shrimp farming. Environmentalists say the amount of mangrove forest destruction is "alarming". Globally, as much as 50 percent of mangrove destruction in recent years has been due to clear cutting for shrimp farms. Destructions have been greatest in Asia and Latin America, but coastal developments have taken their share of the mangroves in Central and Eastern Africa as well, and to a lesser degree in Western Africa.
But also the fragility of the mangrove ecosystem leads to its reduction. In the Gulf of Guinea, oil spills and occasional catastrophic oil blowouts have released thousands of barrels of oil into the sea. Though the exact total discharge is unknown, the quantities spilled so far have created problems ranging from the contamination of beaches and physical infrastructure of ports, destruction of sea birds, to the killing and contamination of marine life resources such as mangroves.

A new threat to the mangroves has risen from global warming and a rising sea level. Global warming in itself might influence the temperature, precipitation - and thus river flow - and carbon dioxide level - and thus the photosynthesis. In the tropics, it is assessed that the mangrove biotope will be the hardest affected by global warming. This is especially due to less rainfall and sweet water supply from rivers.

On a longer term, however, the largest problem is a rising sea level - also due to global warming. This may have the most disastrous effect on the mangroves, as they are a coastal biotope. Their survival will depend on their ability to move inland as sea level rises and if there is land available for the mangroves further inland. Mostly, the belt directly behind the mangrove is one of the most intensively used land recourses in the humid tropics.
Fortunately a mangrove forest can often be replanted if it is damaged, just like a forest on land, assuming that the environmental conditions are still satisfactory. Where temporary damage at a construction site cannot be avoided, at least the trees can be replaced afterwards. Some environmentalists say it should be possible to require a developer who destroys part of a mangrove swamp to replace it with an equal area somewhere else, so that the total area of mangroves does not change. However, it is much easier to keep the mangrove that already exists than to try to replace it once it has been lost.
Conservation efforts are now finally targeting the mangrove environ as its true value is getting more known. Several African governments and environmentalist NGOs are by now implementing conservation and management efforts in limited areas. Efforts to protect mangrove and other wetland areas have also recently been introduced by the UN through its environmental agencies UNEP and FAO.
Indeed, the need to protect the world's mangroves was discovered much earlier. In 1971, a convention to protect "Wetlands of International Importance" was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar. This was unusual because it focused on specific wetland sites that were considered to be of importance especially as waterfowl habitat. To become a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, a country had to designate at least one such site and guarantee its protection.

By now, around 100 countries have become signatories to the treaty, which is proving to become a major salvation to the world's mangroves. Some 850 "Ramsar sites" have been designated by these countries covering over 53 million hectares. About a third of these contain mangroves, so Ramsar and its partners have embarked on the protection and wise use of over 15 million hectares of mangrove wetland. More mangroves are sure to be registered Ramsar sites in the near future.

Meanwhile, the battle over the mangroves is mostly fought locally. In some cases, the tourism potential of these coastal forests is understood and destruction is halted. In other cases, local populations are making use of the mangroves' rich fisheries resources for nutrition, their firewood for cooking, their wood for constructions and the lands stabilised by them as home. Their fight to protect their livelihood against authorities or companies - eager to use the mangroves for other developments - is going on daily, but seldom reported about and mostly lost.

Sources to this feature article include UNEP, Ramsar, FAO, afrol's archives and more


By staff writers

© Afrol News




Agence France Presse: UN concerned about Lebanon oil slick

From correspondents in Nairobi

July 30, 2006 02:55am

Article from: Agence France-Presse
[Appears in Adelaide Now,

THE UN Environment Program (UNEP) today expressed "grave concern" over the environmental crisis unfolding off the Lebanese coast, where thousands of tonnes of fuel are gushing into the sea after Israeli aircraft bombed a power plant.

The Nairobi-based UNEP said the oil slick, caused by the destruction of the Jiyyeh power utility 30 km south of Beirut, is now reported to be affecting up to 80 km of the Lebanese coastline and threatening that of Syria, too.

"The government of Lebanon has requested international assistance from the United Nations and we stand ready to do all we can as soon as it is possible to carry out this urgent work," UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.

"We share the Lebanese authorities concerns over the impact on coastal communities who are being affected by an environmental tragedy which is rapidly taking on a national but also a regional dimension.

"We must also be concerned about the short- and long-term impacts on the marine environment, including the biodiversity upon which so many people depend for their livelihoods and living via tourism and fishing," he added.

Israeli forces bombed the tanks at the power station on July 14 and July 15, a few days into their offensive on Lebanon which has seen intensive air strikes across the country and a bloody ground incursion in the south.

The leak from one of the tanks, just 25 metres from the sea, has now stopped, but another containing 25,000 tonnes of fuel oil is still on fire and is in danger of exploding. Between 8000 and 10,000 tonnes of fuel are on the shore and 5000 on the open water.

The agency said Algeria, Cyprus, the European Community, France, Malta and Spain have responded to appeals and the Malta-based Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) is giving daily advice to the Lebanese environment ministry how to tackle the slick.

"But when the conflict is over, we must do all we can to rapidly pinpoint pollution hotspots in rivers, in the air, in the sea and on the land which can have a detrimental impact on human health and well-being," Steiner added.

"Other sites, from ports to industrial facilities, have been struck which may be leaking toxic chemicals into the environment putting at risk local populations and aid workers," he added.

Lebanese Environment Minister Yacub Sarraf said between 10,000 and 15,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil have spilled out into the sea, covering once golden beaches and rocks with black sludge.

"It's without doubt the biggest environmental catastrophe that the Mediterranean has known, and it risks having terrible consequences not only for our country but also for all the countries of the eastern Mediterranean," Sarraf told AFP.


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