Category Archives: Inform

Take punitive action against BP now

By Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, Special to CNN

It’s interesting how many people have swallowed the BP public relations’ bait to call the explosion from Deepwater Horizon oil rig the Gulf oil spill. We need to call it what it is: the BP oil spill. The federal government needs to take control and take punitive action against BP and any negligent government regulators immediately.

As a concerned citizen, preparedness speaker and author, and former commander of federal troops in disaster response, I watched with interest as BP brought out its big PR guns to protect its brand and its platoon of expert engineers, paid by BP to talk about how it happened and how they intended to fix it.

BP’s reaction was much like Toyota’s when it was confronted with safety issues. It, too, focused on PR to protect its brand, versus telling the truth, and sent out its engineers to talk about the problem and the fix.

The U.S. Coast Guard was the first responder. The Coast Guard’s priority always is to save lives. They spent days looking for the 11 missing men. Meanwhile, BP took advantage of this time to make itself the authoritative voice in the news about the spill and blame other companies.

The No. 1 rule when dealing with disaster is to figure out which rules you need to break.
–Lt. Gen. Russel Honore

The U.S. government response was based on laws and rules that were created after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. After Valdez, the law changed to make the offending company responsible for the cleanup. A fund was created that all oil companies contributed to. If there was an emergency oil spill, a company could draw up to $75 million from this fund to fix the problem. But the fund was meant to help small wildcat operations, not huge conglomerates like BP.

Sticking to that regulation was part of the problem. The No. 1 rule when dealing with disaster is to figure out which rules you need to break. Rules are designed for when everything is working. A democracy is based on trust. BP has proved it can’t be trusted.

iReporters share views on oil spill response

The government needs to change the game and make this a punitive effort. The government has been too friendly to oil companies.

The government should immediately freeze BP’s assets and start to charge the corporation, say $100 million, each day the oil flows. The money could be held in a fund that U.S. government draws on to take care of the people along the Gulf Coast and pay the states for doing the cleanup.
Next, BP and the government bureaucrats who broke a law and put the public at risk need to go to jail.

The latest curse going around in southern Louisiana today is, ‘BP you.’
–Lt. Gen. Russel Honore

I remember when we were evacuating New Orleans on Saturday following Katrina. We pushed the survivors to the airport and a major called and said the pilots refused to fly the plane without a manifest and there was trouble with weapons scanners.

I told him to direct everyone to put the people on the planes as fast as possible, and we would to do the manifest en route or on landing. As a result, we flew 16,000 people out of NOLA airport in less than seven hours.

The priorities of the response to the spill must be to stop the flow of oil, prevent the oil from getting into the shoreline as much as possible, mitigate the effects of the oil in the ocean, and take care of the people who have lost their source of employment, such as fishermen and those in the tourist industry.

BP’s job is to focus on stopping the flow of oil. The government needs to provide more military “command and control” of the situation. As BP works to stop the gusher, the government must address the problem of the oil coming ashore and take care of the people affected, possibly retraining them in other jobs. The government could do this by using the Stafford Act to fund the states so they can protect their shoreline and clean up the oil. Then, the long-term effects of the spill must be mitigated.

The people of the Gulf Coast, particularly South Louisiana, are still recovering from Katrina. They’ve been through hurricanes Rita, Gustav and Ike.

They know hurricane season is right around the corner and this BP oil spill has the potential to get much worse. And they don’t trust BP.

Punitive action must start immediately, with BP supplying the money, from fines, to help the Gulf Coast get over this catastrophe.

Editor’s note: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré commanded the military response to Hurricane Katrina. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2008 after 37 years, sits on the board of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation and is an adjunct professor at Emory and Vanderbilt universities. He is the author of “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save America and You from Disasters.”

Original Article

How High Will Seas Rise? Get Ready for Seven Feet

Sea Level Rise Glacier

By Robert Young and Orrin Pilkey.

The reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are balanced and comprehensive documents summarizing the impact of global warming on the planet. But they are not without imperfections, and one of the most notable was the analysis of future sea level rise contained in the latest report, issued in 2007.

Given the complexities of forecasting how much the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets will contribute to increases in global sea level, the IPCC chose not to include these giant ice masses in their calculations, thus ignoring what is likely to be the most important source of sea level rise in the 21st century. Arguing that too little was understood about ice sheet collapse to construct a mathematical model upon which even a rough estimate could be based, the IPCC came up with sea level predictions using thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of mountain glaciers outside the poles. Its results were predictably conservative — a maximum of a two-foot rise this century — and were even a foot lower than an earlier IPCC report that factored in some melting of Greenland’s ice sheet.

The IPCC’s 2007 sea level calculations — widely recognized by the academic community as a critical flaw in the report — have caused confusion among many in the general public and the media and have created fodder for global warming skeptics. But there should be no confusion about the serious threat posed by rising sea levels, especially as evidence has mounted in the past two years of the accelerated pace of melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

The message for the world’s leaders and decision makers is that sea level rise is real and is only going to get worse. Indeed, we make the case in our recent book, The Rising Sea, that governments and coastal managers should assume the inevitability of a seven-foot rise in sea level. This number is not a prediction. But we believe that seven feet is the most prudent, conservative long-term planning guideline for coastal cities and communities, especially for the siting of major infrastructure; a number of academic studies examining recent ice sheet dynamics have suggested that an increase of seven feet or more is not only possible, but likely. Certainly, no one should be expecting less than a three-foot rise in sea level this century.

In the 20th century, sea level rise was primarily due to thermal expansion of ocean water. Contributions of melting mountain glaciers and the large ice sheets were minor components. But most climate scientists now believe that the main drivers of sea level rise in the 21st century will be the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (a potential of a 16-foot rise if the entire sheet melts) and the Greenland Ice Sheet (a potential rise of 20 feet if the entire ice cap melts). The nature of the melting is non-linear and is difficult to predict.

Melting Ice

Seeking to correct the IPCC’s failure to come up with a comprehensive forecast for sea level increase, a number of state panels and governmentcommittees have produced sea level rise predictions that include an examination of melting ice sheets. For example, sea level rise panels in Rhode Island and Miami-Dade County have concluded that a minimum of a three- to five-foot sea level rise should be anticipated by 2100. A California report assumes a possible 4.6-foot rise by 2100, while the Dutch assume a 2.5-foot rise by 2050 in the design of their tidal gates.

Given the growing consensus about the major sea level rise on the way in the coming century or two, the continued development of many low-lying coastal areas — including much of the U.S. east coast — is foolhardy and irresponsible.

Who is at risk?

Rising seas will be on the front lines of the battle against changing climate during the next century. Our great concern is that as the infrastructure of major cities in the industrialized world becomes threatened, there will be few resources left to address the dramatic impacts that will be facing the citizens of the developing world.

The ramifications of a major sea level rise are massive. Agriculture will be disrupted, water supplies will be salinized, storms and flood waters will reach ever further inland, and millions of environmental refugees will be created — 15 million people live at or below three feet elevation in Bangladesh, for example. Governments, especially those in the developing world, will be disrupted, creating political instability.

The most vulnerable of all coastal environments are deltas of major rivers, including the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Niger, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Nile, andMississippi. Here, land subsidence will combine with global sea level rise to create very high rates of what is known as “local, relative sea level rise.” The rising seas will displace the vast majority of people in these delta regions. Adding insult to injury, in many parts of Asia the rice crop will be decimated by rising sea level — a three-foot sea level rise will eliminate half of the rice production in Vietnam — causing a food crisis coincident with the mass migration of people.

The Mississippi Delta is unique because it lies within a country with the financial resources to fight land loss. Nevertheless, we believe multibillion-dollar engineering and restoration efforts designed to preserve communities on the Mississippi Delta are doomed to failure, given the magnitude of relative sea level rise expected. Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said in 2008 that it was an “ineluctable fact” that within the lifespan of some people alive today, “the vast majority of that land will be underwater.” He also faulted federal officials for not developing migration plans for area residents and for not having the “honesty and compassion” to tell Louisiana residents the “truth”: Someday, they will have to leave the delta. The city of New Orleans can probably be protected into the next century, but only at great expense and with little guarantee that future storms like hurricane Katrina will not inundate the city again.

Sea Level Rise Maldives

Pacific and Indian Ocean atoll nations are already being abandoned because of the direct and indirect effects of sea level rise, such as saltwater intrusion into groundwater. In the Marshall Islands, some crops are being grown in abandoned 55-gallon oil drums because the ground is now too salty for planting. New Zealand is accepting, on a gradual basis, all of the inhabitants of the Tuvalu atolls. Inhabitants of Carteret Atoll have all moved to Papua, New Guinea. The forward-looking government of the Maldives recently held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the ultimate fate of their small island nation.

The world’s major coastal cities will undoubtedly receive most of the attention as sea level rise threatens infrastructure. Miami tops the list of most endangered cities in the world, as measured by the value of property that would be threatened by a three-foot rise. This would flood all of Miami Beach and leave downtown Miami sitting as an island of water, disconnected from the rest of Florida. Other threatened U.S. cities include New York/Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa-St Petersburg, and San Francisco. Osaka/Kobe, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Nagoya are among the most threatened major cities outside of North America.

Preserving coastal cities will require huge public expenditures, leaving smaller coastal resort communities to fend for themselves. Manhattan, for example, is likely to beat out Nags Head, North Carolina for federal funds, a fact that recreational beach communities must recognize when planning a response to sea level rise.

Twelve percent of the world’s open ocean shorelines are fronted by barrier islands, and a three-foot sea level rise will spell doom for development on most of them — save for those completely surrounded by massive seawalls.Impacts in the United States, with a 3,500-mile long barrier island shoreline extending from Montauk Point on Long Island to the Mexican border, will be huge. The only way to preserve the barrier islands themselves will be to abandon them so that they may respond naturally to rising sea level. Yet, most coastal states continue to allow massive, irresponsible development of the low-lying coast.

Ironically, low-elevation Florida is probably the least prepared of all coastal states. Hundreds of miles of high rises line the state’s shoreline, and more are built every year. The state pours subsidies into coastal development through state-run insurance and funding for coastal protection. If a portion of those funds were spent adapting to sea level rise rather than ignoring it, Florida might be ready to meet the challenge of the next century. Let’s hope the state rises to the challenge.

Sea Level Rise

Despite the dire facts, the next century of rising sea level need not be an economic disaster. Thoughtful planning can lead to a measured retreat from vulnerable coastal lowlands. We recommend the following:

Immediately prohibit the construction of high-rise buildings and major infrastructure in areas vulnerable to future sea level rise. Buildings placed in future hazardous zones should be small and movable — or disposable.

Relocation of buildings and infrastructure should be a guiding philosophy. Instead of making major repairs on infrastructure such as bridges, water supply, and sewer and drainage systems, when major maintenance is needed, go the extra mile and place them out of reach of the sea. In our view, no new sewer and water lines should be introduced to zones that will be adversely affected by sea level rise in the next 50 years. Relocation of some beach buildings could be implemented after severe storms or with financial incentives.

Stop government assistance for oceanfront rebuilding. The guarantee of recovery is perhaps the biggest obstacle to a sensible response to sea level rise. The goal in the past has always been to restore conditions to what they were before a storm or flood. In the United States, hurricanes have become urban renewal programs. The replacement houses become larger and larger and even more costly to replace again in the future. Those who invest in vulnerable coastal areas need to assume responsibility for that decision. If you stay, you pay.

Get the Corps off the shore. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, more or less by default, is the government agency in charge of much of the planning and the funding for the nation’s response to sea level rise. It is an agency ill-suited to the job. Part of the problem is that the engineers’ “we can fix it” mentality is the wrong mindset for a sensible approach to responding to changing sea level.

Local governments cannot be expected to take the lead. The problems created by sea level rise are international and national, not local, in scope. Local governments of coastal towns (understandably) follow the self-interests of coastal property owners and developers, so preservation of buildings and maintaining tax base is inevitably a very high priority. In addition, the resources needed to respond to sea level rise will be far beyond those available to local communities.

Responding to long-term sea level rise will pose unprecedented challenges to the international community. Economic and humanitarian disasters can be avoided, but only through wise, forward-looking planning. Tough decisions will need to be made regarding the allocation of resources and response to natural disasters. Let us hope that our political leadership can provide the bold vision and strong leadership that will be required to implement a reasoned response.

Article in Yale E

THESEUS:Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate

Un programme pour mieux protéger les zones côtières

By Pauline Fréour, Le Figaro

Les énormes vagues qui ont frappé la Côte d’Azur soulignent une fois de plus les dangers encourus sur certains littoraux. Le programme européen Theseus doit aider à trouver des pistes concrètes pour protéger les populations de la montée des eaux.

Le 28 février, la tempête Xynthia faisait 51 morts sur la côté atlantique française, souvent noyés dans leurs maisons basses typiques de la Vendée et de la Charente. Mardi, c’est Cannes et Nice qui ont été frappées par des vagues d’au moins six mètres de haut. La plupart des restaurants de plage ont été détruits. Partout en Europe, la densification de la population sur le littoral – le nombre d’habitants a plus que doublé en 50 ans accroît les risques liés à l’inéluctable montée du niveau de la mer.

Pour anticiper les conséquences du changement climatique et mieux protéger ses 170 000 km de côtes, l’Union européenne a lancé en décembre Theseus, un vaste programme scientifique financé à hauteur de 6,5 millions d’euros. Trente et un instituts européens vont passer à la loupe huit régions particulièrement fragiles, dont l’estuaire de la Gironde, pendant quatre ans, dans l’objectif de pouvoir livrer aux acteurs locaux des outils concrets pour limiter les dégâts liés à l’érosion et à la montée des eaux. Selon une étude de l’Union européenne, une bonne préparation de la population et des infrastructures permettrait de diviser par quatre le coût des dégâts qui ne manqueront pas de se produire si l’on n’agit pas à temps.

Un logiciel pour gérer les évacuations
Directeur scientifique du Centre d’études techniques maritimes et fluviales, un service du ministère de l’Ecologie, Philippe Sergent étudie ainsi pour Theseus les modifications à apporter aux digues pour résister à une mer plus haute et potentiellement plus forte. «Pour une montée des eaux d’1 mètre d’ici 2100 c’est le pire scénario envisagé il faudra sans doute les surélever de deux mètres».

Au-delà des ouvrages côtiers proprement dits, son équipe va également collecter des données pour l’élaboration d’un logiciel destiné à aider les acteurs locaux à organiser l’évacuation des populations en cas de besoin. «Suivant l’ampleur du phénomène constaté, il guidera les autorités locales sur la marche à suivre. Il permettra par exemple de gérer le relogement des populations et de réguler la circulation en tenant compte des routes fermées. Autant de choses qui auraient pu être utiles dans le cas de Xynthia», explique-t-il.

Impliquer les populations
Jean-Paul Vanderlinden, professeur de sciences économiques à l’Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, expert des milieux côtiers, travaille à des recommandations qui accompagneront le logiciel. L’objectif : aider les collectivités locales à bien communiquer auprès de la population, pour que celle-ci comprenne bien l’ampleur de la menace. «Lorsque l’on révèle un danger trop grand aux gens, on se rend compte qu’ils deviennent «sourds» aux avertissements. Pour éviter cela, les riverains doivent être impliqués activement à l’identification du risque et à l’aménagement du territoire», explique-t-il.

De fait, quand une population est bien informée, les risques diminuent. A ce titre, Venise, ville coutumière des inondations, offre un exemple intéressant. «Des recherches en cours montrent que les gens sont tellement habitués que le coût des dégâts est désormais presque nul. Les Vénitiens savent comment réagir, leurs maisons sont adaptées et ils ne se laissent pas surprendre», souligne Jean-Paul Vanderlinden. L’enjeu est d’autant plus important qu’il est lié à la notion de responsabilité. Car quand un lotissement est construit dans une zone identifiée comme étant à risque, qui doit payer : l’Etat, les collectivités territoriales, le promoteur, les riverains ?

L’exemple de Nice montre par ailleurs que la France a encore des progrès à faire en termes d’avertissement de la population, estime Philippe Sergent. «Dans ce cas précis, on aurait sans doute pu limiter l’ampleur des destructions puisque l’alerte avait bien été donnée par Météo France, estime-t-il. Mais il semble que la gravité du phénomène n’ait pas été saisie, par les restaurateurs notamment.» Selon, lui, il serait sans doute judicieux d’aligner le système d’alerte de franchissement maritime sur celui déjà en place pour les inondations fluviales, qui fonctionne bien. «Un service spécialisé de prévisions à été mis en place il y a quelques années et il permet d’avertir le grand public des risque de crues, par le biais de la météo à la télévision par exemple».

Original Article

THESEUS, Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate: THESEUS

THESEUS (Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate) is the largest Integrated Project funded by the European Commission (6,530,000 €) and consists of 31 partner institutes. The project will develop during the next four years a systematic approach to deliver both a low-risk coast for human use and healthy coastal habitats for evolving coastal zones subjected to multiple factors.

Sand mining company proposes expanding Stradbroke national parks

Australia Sand Mining


The sand mining company Unimin is calling for large areas of Stradbroke Island off Brisbane to be declared national park as soon as possible.

The company has mining leases over about 45 per cent of the island, off Brisbane.

Unimin spokesman Paul Smith says new national parks would benefit residents, and traditional owners, who have an unresolved native title claim on the island.

Yet, mining will continue even if some parts of the island are declared national park…

Read Full Article, By Stephanie Smail, ABC News

Mining in Stradbroke Island, Queensland Australia: Wikipedia

During the 1960s sand mining operations began mining the islands frontal dunes.[citation needed] Mining moved into the interior of the island in the late 1960s and increased in scale and size. As an alternative, development of the island for seaside residential use was mooted and in 1970 a bridge from the mainland via Russell Island was under serious consideration by the Queensland government. The Queensland government also proposed a large scale redevelopment of the island in the mid 1980’s which would have seen the population of the island increase 10 fold. This proposal was never followed through when the incumbent government lost office. From the 1960s to the 1980s sand miners mined the frontal dunes of the ocean beach from Jumpinpin to Point Lookout. This mining activity destroyed numerous ancient Aboriginal middens and campsites in the sheltered areas behind the frontal dunes.[citation needed] Unique ecosystems which lay between the 18 Mile Swamp and the ocean were also destroyed. Generally there was little more than a token effort to re-vegetate mined areas so that 30 years after the area was mined the dunal areas are still ecologically devastated. There is also strong anecdotal evidence that in the 1960s one of the early mining companies destroyed a shipwreck located in the sand dunes near Jumpinpin which may have been the reputed Stradbroke Galleon.There are several accounts from sand mining employees of unusual artifacts being found during dredging operations.

However, the understanding of the island’s environmental and native heritage value was on the rise. In 1991 the Australian Government and sand mining companies ACI and Consolidated Rutile Pty Ltd attempted to reach an agreement on surrender of some or parts of mining lease tenements to form a national park. Half of North Stradbroke Island was to become a National Park in return for a guarantee that mining could continue for the life of several mines in high grade areas. The agreement was never signed by either of the mining companies nor the government and has not been progressed to this day. Mineral sands and silica sands at Myora Mine, near Dunwich, are currently being mined from the surface whilerutile, zircon and ilmenite are dredged from the Yarraman Mine on the north of the island and the Enterprise Mine on the south of the island by Consolidated Rutile Limited. In 2009 500,000 tonnes of minerals were being produced by mining about 50 million tonnes of sand. According to the Stradbroke Island Management Organisation (an environmental organisation) two-thirds of the island is covered by mining leases.

Ancestors’ Bones Halt Sand Mining


By Simon Collins, The New Zealand Herald.

Plans to take sand from near Pakiri Beach to replenish Auckland’s Kohimarama Beach are in limbo, with Ngati Wai dissident Greg McDonald seeking a High Court injunction to stop the project.

Mr McDonald also applied on Monday for a judicial review of a decision by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to allow sand-mining company Kaipara Ltd to take up to 2 million cu m of sand from a 500sq km area between Pakiri and Little Barrier Island during the next 20 years.

Kaipara is fighting both the injunction and the judicial review, and has hit back by asking the Legal Services Agency to review Mr McDonald’s legal aid on the basis that he has no valid legal grounds for the two actions.

Kaipara’s lawyer Kitt Littlejohn said the Pakiri sand-mining permit that Mr Carter granted on February 19 was the only one with enough scope to provide for the Auckland City Council’s planned $6 million Kohimarama Beach replenishment.

Waikato University Professor Terry Healy, a consultant to Kaipara, found that relocating the mining would end the beach erosion at Pakiri because the new source of sand would be at least 2km offshore and in water at least 25m deep.

The Ngati Wai Trust Board agreed in 2001 to drop its objection to mining in the new area in return for getting 50c for every cubic metre of sand extracted – a total of up to $1 million.

But Mr McDonald, a part-owner of land on the beach, has challenged the board’s right to make that deal without adequately consulting Ngati Wai people, including himself.

He argues that the offshore sand is a finite resource.

Much of it originated from the period when the Waikato River flowed into the Hauraki Gulf up to 20,000 years ago.

The seabed also contains the bones of people who died in fighting between his Ngati Wai ancestors on Little Barrier and the rival Ngati Whatua in the 1600s.

He said he had a legal right to seek a review of the sand-mining permit even though he needed taxpayer-funded legal aid.

“They [Kaipara] are just trying to use their money to get rid of me. I don’t believe it’s right that they should bully a Maori that hasn’t got a lot of money,” he said.

He has gathered 600 signatures from Pakiri residents, including boxer David Tua, who owns land at the beach, against the sand-mining proposal.

Mr McDonald’s lawyer, Olinda Woodroffe, has written to Mr Littlejohn offering to withdraw her application for an injunction if Kaipara agrees not to start taking sand from the new area until the High Court rules on the judicial review. Mr Littlejohn said he was awaiting instructions on this from Kaipara.

Justice Tony Randerson issued a minute to both parties last week asking for affidavits on the substantive case by May 8.

Photos Source

Singapore sand imports threaten Cambodian ecosystem

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian UK

Singapore, which prides itself on being one of the most environmentally friendly nations in Asia, is expanding its coastline with irresponsibly dredged sand from Cambodia, according to a report from an environmental NGO.

Global Witness says the lucrative sand trade devastates ecosystems, lacks regulatory oversight and enriches traders at the expense of local fishermen.

The report, Shifting Sand: how Singapore’s demand for Cambodian sand threatens ecosystems and undermines good governance, reveals that much of the demand is from Singapore, a small island state with big ambitions to increase its territory. The city state of 4.9 million people has expanded its surface area from 582 sq km in the 1960s, to 710 sq km in 2008, an increase of 22%, and it has ambitious plans to reclaim further land from the sea.

This requires far more sand than the island is able to provide for itself, prompting suppliers and middlemen to dredge and buy overseas.

Cargo manifests and photographs in the report suggest Singapore imported 14.2m tonnes of sand worth $273m (£184m) in 2008 from Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia. Its sourcing has reportedly expanded recently to Burma, the Philippines and Bangladesh.

The lucrative trade has alarmed neighbouring nations, which have seen chunks of their land being shipped off. After local media reported the shrinkage of several islands in Indonesia, the government there banned sales of sand to Singapore in 2008. Malaysia and Vietnam have imposed similar controls.

After the trade moved to Cambodia, the prime minister, Hun Sen, announced last May that his country too would restrict exports of sand.

But Global Witness says coastal dredging operations have increased in the year since. The NGO estimates a single Cambodian province – Koh Kong – has an annual trade with Singapore worth $248m (£168m).

On a single day, the NGO says its investigators have seen nine dredgers inside a single protected area – the Peam Krasop wildlife sanctuary and Koh Kapik Ramsar site.

The dredging operations threaten mangrove swamps, coral reefs and the biggest seagrass bed in the South China Sea, which is home to several rare species including the Irrawaddy dolphin, dugong and seahorses, it said.

Local communities have reported a sharp fall in fish stocks and crab harvests. The Cambodian government has denied any link with dredging operations.

In Cambodia, at least 14 firms have been given dredging licenses. A tonne of sand, which costs $3 (£2) per tonne to extract, can be sold for $26 (£18) per tonne in Singapore. It is unclear how much of the revenues are returned to the people in the form of taxes.

“Cambodia’s natural resource wealth should be lifting its population out of poverty. Instead, international aid has propped up basic services in Cambodia for over 15 years. Meanwhile, money from natural resources disappears into private bank accounts, and nearly 70% of the population subsists on less than $2 a day,” said George Boden, campaigner at Global Witness.

The government of Singapore, which will this summer host the World Cities Summit – focusing on sustainability – denies any wrongdoing. It says the import of sand for reclamation is done on a commercial basis with safeguards for the environment.

“The policing and enforcement of sand extraction licences is ultimately the responsibility of the source country. However, Singapore will continue to play its part to ensure that sand is extracted in a legal and environmentally responsible manner,” noted a statement by the Ministry of National Development. “We have not received any official notice on the ban of sand exports from Cambodia.”

Original Article

Mining ‘eating’ dunes at Northland refuge

By wayne Thompson, The New Zealand Herald.

The erosion of dunes at a remote Northland beach and wildlife refuge is being blamed on dredges mining the near shore Mangawhai-Pakiri sand resource.

A year’s wave action on the exposed coast has eroded 28m at the base of the Mangawhai Spit despite a 20-year community conservation effort to restore one of the country’s few nesting sites for the endangered fairy tern.

“The erosion is huge and continuing,” said Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society chairman Ray Welson. “It has not recovered after the July storms.”

The sea breached the spit 30 years ago. The society successfully fought to have sand mining off the spit stopped in 2004, but dredges operate to the south, off Pakiri Beach.

Mr Welson said erosion during the past 18 months north and south of Te Arai Pt threatened a pristine area, the stability of the restored sandspit, Mangawhai Harbour and its waterfront community.

However, ARC environmental chair woman Dianne Glenn said officers considered the erosion was likely to be due to wave action in extreme storms in July 2007 and last year.

She said erosion along the beach was consistent with low beach levels recorded in the ARC’s surveys of other east coast beaches.

Mr Welson disagrees. “From vantage points along the coast, on a clear day, one can see the adverse erosive effects sand extraction continues to have on the shoreline.”

Pakiri sand was used to restore Kohimarama Beach in Auckland City. But the sand lost at Pakiri in a year was equivalent to 50 times the amount used for Kohimarama.

Mr Welson said the society was trying to rebuild the spit’s dune system. This year, it grew and then planted 10,000 pingao and spinifex on the toe of the spit to the beginning of the coastal forest.

“Within weeks, you see sand building up against them. But the sand must be able to build up on the foreshore in front to dissipate the energy of the waves.

“There’s not as much sand being deposited on the foreshore, because it’s being taken away, and we are getting more severe wave action and it’s washing these plants away.”

Mr Welson said the society believed persistent erosion was concealed by inadequate and outmoded monitoring of the dredging.

The annual report on monitoring up to April last year should have prompted the ARC to order an independent review of the mining consents.

In March, the ARC and Friends of Pakiri Beach will go to the High Court to challenge the Environment Court’s granting resource consents for near shore mining of Mangawhai-Pakiri. In 2006, that court extended Sea-Tow and McCallum Bros’ consents for a further 14 years.

It also preferred the monitoring proposal of the companies to one which the ARC said could better isolate the effects of mining.

The appeal rests on a lack of evidence to support the company’s claim there was more sand coming into the area than was going out.

Meanwhile, dredges have left the Pakiri area for the Christmas holiday period.

Original Article

Greenbelt Reports / TVE Asia Pacific

Photo source: ©© Barloventomagico

The Greenbelt Reports (GBR) is a multi-media, Asian regional educational project to document the conservation challenges involving mangroves, coral reefs and sand reefs – collectively called ‘greenbelts’ in recognition of their natural protective role against wave action and anticipated climate change impact.

In mid 2005, TVE Asia Pacific launched this regional project is to journalistically investigate and report on efforts to balance conservation needs of coastal greenbelts with socio-economic needs of coastal communities. It was one of TVEAP’s communications responses to the Asian tsunami of December 2004.

‘Green Coast – for nature and people after the tsunami’ was itself formulated by four international organisations in response to urgent pleas from Asian partners to help recover damaged coastal ecosystems and influence better coastal resource management policies.

Filming The Greenbelt Reports in Jaring Halus, Indonesia 2006The founding partners of Green Coast are Wetlands International, World Wide Fund for Nature, IUCN and the Dutch environmental network Both Ends.

The Green Coast project is being financed for 18 months by Oxfam Novib, through Dutch public charity funds. Oxfam Novib is a member of Oxfam International, and has been one of the longest European partners and supporters of TVE Asia Pacific.
The Greenbelt Reports is a project that involves the production of new, journalistic material and their active distribution through broadcast, educational and civil society outlets across the Asia Pacific. Emphasis will be on coastal countries, especially those that were affected by the Asian Tsunami.

The Greenbelt Reports first series comprises one half hour regional documentary and 12 self-contained short videos 5 minutes in duration. Each tells the story of a community, activist group or researchers engaged in saving, restoring or regenerating coastal greenbelts.

Stories in the first series, to be released in December 2006, have from coastal areas in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand – the four countries that were hardest hit by the Tsunami.

“This series is not about the Asian Tsunami, but was inspired by the mega-disaster,” says Nalaka Gunawardene, Director of TVEAP and executive producer of The Greenbelt Reports. “This is an attempt to capture one of the key environmental lessons of the Tsunami, which we need to amplify as much as possible.”

Green Coast has supported the filming of stories on mangroves, coral reefs and sand dunes in four different locations in the north-western, southern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka (see box for synopses).

These were produced in cooperation with the following local level conservation groups or community organizations: Nature Conservation Group, Neo Synthesis Research Centre, Turtle Conservation Project and the community of Paanama village, eastern Sri Lanka.

Using funding support from the Green Coast project, the Sri Lanka stories – as well as the regional overview documentary, Greenbelt Reports: Armed by Nature — will be versioned into Sinhala and Tamil. These will then be distributed through national broadcasts, and at a dozen public outreach events to be organized in coastal locations.

The public outreach events are being scheduled for December 2006, which will also mark the second anniversary of the Asian Tsunami.

The Sri Lankan coast was one of the most heavily damaged areas in the region following the tsunami of December 26th. Sri Lanka suffered the highest number of deaths after Indonesia, an estimated 34,000 people on the island lost their lives and thousands more are missing. The number of homeless people was estimated at about 800,000 while about 400,000 are said to have lost their livelihoods – primarily in agriculture and fishery. The tsunami caused severe damage in 12 of the country’s 14 coastal districts.

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