Sunday, October 25, 2009

ECOTONE-bi-monthly newsletter

Dear Friends,

On the behalf of the editorial board of Ecotone, I hereby express the pleasure in bringing out the 1st edition of our newsletter. Ecotone is a joint publication of Environ, Guwahati (Assam) and NECEER, Imphal(Manipur). Immense efforts have been put in the newsletter to cover the most remarkable news, issues and events of the region, which may be useful to our readers.

You are also welcome to contribute articles, photographs with details, news or in any other form pertaining to the regional environment and development related issues, North eastern region for publishing in our subsequent issues.


For free online copy of Ecotone, please contact:

The Editor, Ecotone at ecotone.editor@gmail.com


With regards-
Kripaljyoti Mazumdar
GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
NE Unit, Arunachal Pradesh

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ecotone

Ecotone E-newsletter (a joint venture of Environ, Guwahati and NECEER, Imphal).

Ecotone is an effort to highlight all the environment related research activities and news of the North eastern region.
I would like to invite all my friends and other researchers to contribute a short article/news (300-500 words if possible with one photograph) for our upcoming October Issue.

Last date of submission : 10th October 2009

With regards,
Kripaljyoti Mazumdar
Editor-in-Chief
Ecotone
e-mail: ecotone.editor@gmail.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another year ahead to combat climate change and desertification

Since 1995 UN General Assembly (under resolution no A/RES/49/1995), every year 17th June has been celebrated as the World day to combat drought and desertification for promoting public awareness related to international cooperation to combat the effect of drought and desertification under the umbrella of UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification). Likewise, this year also UN as a part of their international campaign to tackle global environmental deterioration particularly degradation of dry-lands is celebrating International day to Combat Desertification with the theme “Conserving land and water = Securing our common future”.

It is important to note that 44% of all cultivated system worldwide is located within dry-land. Desertification makes 12 million hectares of land useless for cultivation every year, whereas half of the people who are below poverty line live in dry-lands. Drought and desertification is directly linked with soil productivity and it induces the vulnerability towards pests and diseases. As a result of climate change, agriculture in the dry land is being seriously threatened by raising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns or the increase of drought. Desertification, land degradation and drought threaten this human security by depriving people of their means of life – by taking away food, access to water, the means for economic activities, and even their homes. This has also impact on the migration and movements of people from one place to other in search of these resources. When secure water and food supplies cannot be guaranteed, people frequently migrate to areas where they believe they can find them. The most recent estimates put the number of the environmentally displaced from anywhere between 17 and 24 million people around the world. It is projected that for the period leading up to the year 2050 there will be 200 million environmentally induced migrants (International Organization for Migration, Geneva). Agriculture and food security are the major concern as decrease in agricultural productivity with shrinking of land availability is the biggest challenge to feed increase population of India. The phenomenon of climate change is affecting the agricultural production and available land for cultivation in a serious manner in India. About 28 % of the country’s total cultivable land is drought prone and about 68 million hector land is undergoing and affected by desertification, which could be a serious blow on agricultural productivity and food security.

The north eastern India is known for the forest and other natural resources along with the water resources. But of late, most of the part of this region is facing the problem of water scarcity and water pollution in some part of the region is perceived as an important problem beside biodiversity loss, jhum, deforestation and urbanization. Many urban localities in the area are constantly facing the problem of water scarcity since last couple of years. City like Imphal is severely facing the problem since last two months. The intensity is such that Imphal has witnessed almost 75 % decrease rainfall in the first quarter of this year as compared to that of 2007-08 as per the record of state meteorological department. During September 2007 to March 2008 rainfall in the city was about 527 mm and within a year the rainfall decreases to three fold resulting only 206 mm in this season. Even during a study while I am comparing the rainfall and meteorological data of Tawang and Bomdila we came up with a linear decrease in rainfall over last 15 years. This two examples along with many other are the replica of phase of future water scarcity and depict the coming days water scenario in the region.

Much of the land surface is degrading or at the risk of degradation due to decline of forest covers. Forest plays an important role in preventing and controlling land degradation and desertification and also for sound economic development while conserving the global environment. The process of deforestation and desertification are intractably linked, whereby land cover changes in terms of forest or other land use and unsustainable use of land resources over a period of time lead to degradation of land and simultaneously desertification. Water harvesting and conservation should be a national priority and it should be used judiciously. Plants in forest areas are the natural carbon sinks. Proper step for massive aforestation and conservation of the remaining forest lands will help in regeneration of the degraded forests and slow down the process of desertification. In this context, stress should be given to conserve and protect forest land, natural water bodies including lakes, rivers and streams where the youth of the region can play a vital role in this context. Lastly, there is another year ahead to combat the ill-effect of climate change and desertification for better ecosystem services and sustainable development.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My article published in the Arunachal Times

A thought on the World Environment day

Kripaljyoti Mazumdar

Like the other this year also we are celebrating World Environment day, with the theme ‘Your planet needs you- Unite to combat Climate change’ urging the human being to unite against the effect of climate change. While since its inception during the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 (by resolution 2994 (XXVII) of December 15, 1972, in the General Assembly of UN)to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, each year it is being celebrated across the world, with a host country each year. This year’s host is Mexico city, Mexico which reflects the growing role of the Latin American country in the fight against climate change, including its growing participation in the carbon markets. This endeavor of World Environmental day promotes environmental issues to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development as well as upholds an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues and advocates partnership that will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

It has been seen that since last three years the main concern of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) was on the Global warming and the affect of climate change, which reflects in each year’s theme. While exactly two decades earlier in 1989 when the UNEP first put its Environmental day theme on Global Warming, the impact of the global warming perhaps not been seen or felt at such intensive level as at the moments and the scientific trends that are available now.

Temperature increase is widespread over the globe, with higher than average trends in many of the world’s highlands. On average the global temperature rose by 0.74°C over the last hundred years (1906-2005), with more than half of this rise, 0.44°C, in the last 25 years. Eleven of the twelve years between 1995 and 2006 rank among the twelve warmest years since 1850 when records of global surface temperature began, this trend certainly alarm us about the trend of global warming and must concern all of us.

This global trend of climate change certainly depicts a picture of global raise of sea level or the low laying areas. But, the Climate change has become a major issue in the Himalayan region too. Temperatures increase as per prediction, all aspects of human and natural life will be affected.

The mountain regions are particularly vulnerable, both because warming trends are higher and because the impacts are magnified by the extreme changes in altitude over small distances. Life in the entire Himalayan region also relies strongly on the monsoon systems, and these may be altered by climate change. Locally, people’s ability to adapt will be challenged; further away, changes in the Himalayas could affect the life and livelihoods of the 1.3 billion people living in the river basins downstream.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has developed one of the most comprehensive climate change projection studies in the region, which suggest that there will be a decrease in monsoon precipitation of up to 20% by the end of the century in most parts of south-eastern Afghanistan, the southern and eastern Tibetan Plateau and the central Himalayan range. Changes in the monsoon regime might lead to an overall increase in precipitation in some areas, and a decrease in others. There are also likely to be more flash floods resulting from increased numbers and magnitude of extreme precipitation events, and there may be greater direct runoff and less delayed runoff as less precipitation falls as snow.

All areas of South Asia are projected to warm by at least 1°C by the end of the century; in the Punjab area, a large part of Afghanistan, Badakshan, the western Nepal Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh, and the northern Tibetan Plateau, warming could be as high as 3.5-4°C. The rate of warming is likely to increase with increasing altitude, at least in Nepal, Bhutan and Eastern Himalaya.

The effect of climate change which worries environmentalists of this part of eastern Himalaya is about the effect of climate change on ecosystem services as Climate change is going to affecting forest type and area, primary productivity, species populations and migration, the occurrence of pests and disease, and forest regeneration. The increase in greenhouse gases is also affecting species composition and changing the ecosystem structure, which in turn affects ecosystem function. The interaction between elevated CO2 and climate change plays an important role in the overall response of net primary productivity. Climate change will have a profound effect on the future distribution, productivity, and ecological health of forests. There could be a significant reduction in alpine and cryospheric ecosystems and their services. A major expansion of the tropical zones would cover most of the middle mountains and inner valleys of the region, whereby the quality and quantity of ecosystem services are likely to change dramatically for the worse.

Climate change is also going to affect the human health and the people’s well being as it will affect in the form of Vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever which are likely to move to higher altitudes. Water-borne diseases are also likely to increase with the increasing water stress accompanied by the lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in the region. Deaths and morbidity associated with extreme and erratic weather are also likely to increase. Climate change will have differentiated impacts which could be more severe for women, and poor and marginalized groups.

These data and facts are most alarming towards the extent of global warming and the climate change that we are facing, and the phenomenon is now regarded as the greatest threat facing the world. There are many disputes related to the reduction of CO2 by among many countries, but we need to understand that Climate change is a global problem that needs addressing now for the sake of future generations. The science is well established and the dangers clear. It needs the consolidate effort of all section of people and specially the youths. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in his message on the eve of World Environmental day encouraged all people to take concrete steps toward making the planet greener and cleaner and urge about needs of a “Green New Deal” focused on investing in renewable sources of energy, eco-friendly infrastructure and energy efficiency.

Year Wise Theme and List of Host Countries of World Environmental Day since last two decades

Year

Theme

Host Country

2009

Your Planet Needs you- unite to combat climate change

Mexico

2008

CO2, Kick the Habitat! Towards a low Carbon Economy

Wellington, New Zealand

2007

Melting Ice- a hot topic

Tromso, Norway

2006

Desert and desertification-don’t desert Drylands!

Algiers, Algeria

2005

Green cities- plan for the planet

San Francisco, USA

2004

Seas and Oceans- dead or alive

Barcelona, Spain

2003

Water- two billion people are dieing for it.

Beirut, Lebanon

2002

Give earth a chance

Shenzhen, China

2001

Connect with World wide web of life

Jointly by Italy and Cuba

2000

The Environment Millennium – Time to Act

Adelaide, Australia

1999

Our Earth - Our Future - Just Save It!

Tokyo, Japan

1998

For Life on Earth - Save Our Seas

Moscow, Russian Federation

1997

For Life on Earth

Seoul, Republic of Korea

1996

Our Earth, Our Habitat, Our Home

Istanbul, Turkey

1995

We the Peoples: United for the Global Environment

Pretoria, South Africa

1994

One Earth One Family

London, United Kingdom

1993

Poverty and the Environment - Breaking the Vicious Circle

Beijing, China

1992

Only One Earth, Care and Share

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

1991

Climate Change. Need for Global Partnership

Stockholm, Sweden

1990

Children and the Environment

Mexico City, Mexico

1989

Global Warming; Global Warning

Brussels, Belgium

(Published in Arunachal Times, 5th June 2009).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save Deepor Beel Andolan

One of my friend and senior Ajoy Das from leading environmental group of Assam Aaranyak is taking the initiative for the conservation of Deepor beel the lone Ramsar site of state of Assam. I am here attaching the fact sheet that he prepared and I urge all the concern people, environmentalist, scientist, wildlife biologists and general mass to support this noble cause--
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
FACTS SHEET
(Subjected to correction and authentic inputs)
For
Save Deepor Beel Andolan

This facts sheet has been prepared for private circulation among the environmental lovers so that they can democratically resist the plan of N. F. railways plan to newly construct the railway track near deepor beel which would be towards Meghalaya (main current issue of Save Deepor Beel Andolan).The railway track is just an attempt to fill up few influential people’s pockets in the name of development. The existing railway track has already caused devastation and would cause more due to more frequenting of goods trains. Deepor beel still fights with number of problems part from the goods railway track.
→Communities residing near deepor beel, of which mostly are tribal and agriculturist, have been harmoniously residing near deepor beel since time immemorial and thus they are integral part of deepor beel. The Communities are the part of wetland conservation throughout the world.
→Deepor beel serves as a storm water basin for the people of Guwahati. It has medicinal plants which the communities depend on them since ages to cure their diseases (Traditional and Indigenous knowledge system). Each year there are migratory birds which comes to deepor beel. Weather birds like- Golden plover, Little-winged plover, bank myna etc, have a sharp decreasing trend. Nowadays, they are almost not visible at all. Deepor beel has also endemic birds. There are more than 219 bird species of which 70 species are waterfowl, 20 amphibian, 12 lizards, 18 snakes and 6 turtle and tortoise species, apart from the 50 fish species along with 18 genera of phytoplankton and 21 genera of zooplanktons are recorded so far from this beel.
→Deepor beel is a culturally important for the people of Assam. Way back during British regime Deshabhakta Tarun Ram Phukan wrote an autobiography called ‘Tarun Ram Phukanar Shikar Kahini’. People of Assam do not need any introduction of late Tarun Ram Phukan, the freedom fighter who fought against the British. In his autobiography he has given vivid description about deepor beel and the waterfowls found there. His hunting associate was Late Tabak Mikir who’s Grandsons Mr. Lakhsman Teron and Mr. Keshab Teron still resides near deepor beel.
→It was proposed as Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1992 and it still remains so. Unfortunately, it has not yet been declared as sanctuary till date.
→In the year 1989/90(year not known exactly), construction of railway line over/north bank/south bank of deepor beel was proposed. Amidst lot of cry and resistance from environmental groups and the local people residing at deepor beel, the railway track at the south bank was made depriving many people of their agricultural and residential land land.
→By way of notification dated Dispur, the 31st May ’95 all the wetlands were made reserved wetlands in Assam due to their ecological importance.
→In the year 2001/2002 the railway line was completed which intersect the elephant corridor of the site. The deepor beel also interacts with the other wild life of Rani Garbhanga Reserve forests at high note which has been greatly destroyed because of the goods railway track
→Due to the railway line life of many elephants have turned to death. Since the existence of this Railway track near about eight (8) elephants have been killed, besides minor and major injuries the elephants suffer from time to time.
→Deepor Beel was granted Ramsar site recognition on 19/8/2002 bearing Ramsar site no. 1207 under Convention on wetlands of Wetlands of International Importance Especially as waterfowl Habitat. popularly known as Ramsar Convention. As such India has international obligation to protect and preserve Deepor Beel.In Assam deeor beel is the only one such wetland of international reputation.
→On 7th July 2005 at Vigyan Path, Paschim Boragaon, Garchuk, Guwahati-781035 was made a Garbage Dump of the entire garbage of the Guwahati city. The garbage dump is just near deepor beel touching the water of deepor beel.The garbage dump is very near to the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology(IASST),Production center of ARTFED near deepor beel and also Pragjoytish English High School.
→Recently, some part of the area surrounding the deepor beel has also been declared as Eco-Sensitive Zone. Sahara India had to stop their large scale construction plan of building up a township after declaring it so.
→Deepor beel has also been included as directory of Asian wetlands as wetland type-14.
→One year back, notification was issued for acquisitions of land for the new construction of railway track .Notices are being issued to various cultivators and residential owners of the land for acquiring their land. As such, the rail way track towards Pamohi, Moinakhurung, and Garughuli and so on would affect more than 500 families. The rail way track is primarily to transit coal from Megahalya. The people of the deepor beel region have remained helpless on various such issues. They desperately need help. [Information collected from local people]
Pleaser circulate this facts sheet to all concerned and join the Save Deepor Beel Andolan providing your valuable suggestions, show of interest, further information on the facts sheet, contact addresses, numbers and e-mail ids (if any) to --

Ajoy Kumar Das
Contact no.9957387738
e-mail- ajoylaw@gmail.com , ajoy@aaranyak.org
50, Samanwoy Path, Survey, Beltola, Guwahati-781028
Please note that any co-operation on this issue would be kept secret.
________________________________________________________________________
I urge all the prople to extend their helping hand to Ajoy.
Regards-
Kripal-the naturelover
****************************************
Mr. Kripaljyoti Mazumdar, JRF
G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment & Development,
North East Unit, Itanagar Arunachal Pradesh, India-791113.
Phone-0091-360 -2216423(O); Mob: +91-9615041048
Residence~
6, Tribeni Path, Chandan Nagar
Six Mile, Guwahati-781022Assam (India)
e-mail: kripaljyoti@gmail.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Nature has been for me, as long as
I remember, a source of solace, inspiration,
adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, and a companion." — Lorraine Anderson

In the Valley of Black-necked Crane

For last couple of week I had been to the Dirang, one of the most beautiful valley in the westernmost part of Arunachal Pradesh as a part of my field trip. The land of raising sun, Arunachal Pradesh having a home of 26 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes, it provides the blend of vast cultural, ritual, and ethnic diversity and is perhaps one of the richest area in terms of its floral, faunal, cultural ethnic and ritual diversity in India. With 26 major tribes and more than 110 sub-tribes, the state supports over 600 species of Orchids, more than 200 species of mammalian fauna and about 738 species of birds are being recorded to occur till now. In the western part of Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier known as Kameng, one can enjoy the beauty of tropical evergreen forests found along the foothills of southern part of the West Kameng district bordering with Assam (up to an elevation gradient of 900m). As you move up, the forest patterns turns into subtropical evergreen or mixed forest which ranges up to an altitudinal range from 900 to 1800 m msl. In Dirang valley you will find a mixture of mixed forest along with the temperate forest. As you move towards Tawang, in upward direction, before reaching the Sela pass, (which is the world’s second highest motorable road) in lower sela area, the subalpine fir vegetation started (which is the dominant in the sela pass region upto an altitude of 4500 m msl). Above 4500m height the vegetation is mostly Alpine vegetation dominated by herbaceous species like Rheum, Arenaria, Saussurea etc. along with Rhododendron sp.
Dirang, which is also a District block with an area of 139,940 ha, of which 63.5 % area is under evergreen forest cover, whereas 35.7% are under the deciduous and degraded forest cover, provides general land cover pattern which is smooth and simple. The steep slopes of almost all river valleys where moderate erosion is expected, are covered by degraded forests. Sangti village and valley which is almost about 30-40 minutes drive from Dirang, at an altitude of 1500 m, known for its wintering Black necked Crane Gurus nigricollis. The Black necked crane is one of the rarest bird species found in Himalayan belt and it has been listed under Vulnerable category according to BirdLife International. Sangti valley along with Zimithang is the two valleys that this species of bird visit in Western Arunachal Pradesh along with other four sites in entire Arunachal.
The Monpa tribes, which practices Buddhism, protect these species according to their traditional believes and faith in this two valleys. Monpas played an important role of intermediaries in trade between Assam and Tibet. While they used to go to Tibetan trading market during the summers, they usually visited Assam plains during winters. Produce like chillies, vegetable, dyes, hand made paper, and husked rice traded for Tibetan salt, wool and churpi. Masks, animal hide, chillies, etc., were also important trade items of Monpas to be exchanged with Tibetan rock salt, wool, woolen cloths and Tibetan dao resembling swords. Within the Arunachal also, Monpas exchange butter, coats shoes, carpets, blankets, masks and yak cap, salt and beetle nut with Sherdukpen tribal group in exchange of cows, Assamese endicloths, mithun and animal-skins. Although Monpas are the predominant community, other five tribes also occur in this part of state, they are Sherdukpen, Khowa, Aka and Miji.
Of late the declaration of the proposed Twang West Kameng BR (also known as Tsangyang Gyatso biosphere reserve and Peace park) has let some light in for conservation efforts in the area, with participation from the locals. Tsangyang Gyatso Biosphere Reserve is named after his holiness the 6th Dalai Lama (1683-1706) who was born at Urgeling in Tawang district. GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, North East Unit is working in the proposed reserve with Human-wildlife conflict and co-existence in three different dimensions— 1). Livestock depredation and retaliatory killing of carnivores; 2). Agricultural damage induced conflict and killing of crop raiding animals; 3). Grazing competition between livestock and wild ungulates.
The western Arunachal provides tremendous scope for the wildlife biologists and sociologists to work. I will be sharing my other experiences working in this area in coming blog posts. At last I must suggest everbody to have a visit to this part of Himalay once in their lifetime......

With Regards-
Kripal-the naturelover

***********************************
Kripaljyoti Mazumdar
G.B. Pant Institute for Himalayan
Environment and Development
North East Unit, Itanagr,
Arunachal Pradesh-791113
E-mail:
kripaljyoti@rediffmail.com


"Nature has been for me, as long as I
remember, a source of solace, inspiration,
adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, and a companion." — Lorraine Anderson