Climate change threatens rural livelihood

Nov 15, 2012

Kangpara is a case in point

Gradual decline in chili and bamboo produce stands as evidence

Climate Change:Kangpara chili and bambooware that lie displayed along the narrow platforms in front of shops in Wamrong are the main sources of income for its villagers.

The fear among Kangpara villagers in Trashigang today is of the shrinking produce along that same narrow platforms, which subsequently leads to shrinking income.

Within the last couple of years, Kangpara villagers said they experienced diminishing bamboo products and their chili perishing from blight.

The situation, Kangpara farmer said, was worsening every year that the fear among them looms of a time when they are unable to weave bamboo produce for their own use and chili for self-consumption.

Farmer Pema Rinzin, 60, said chili production in the locality was reducing annually, and it worsened this year, as it rained continuously during the chili transplantation season.

“We suspected pest infestation, but there was no pests in the chili tree that died,” he said.

Kangpara gup Chempa Dorji said people, who sold quintals of chili a few years ago, could not produce for their own consumption today.

He said chili production began decreasing since four years or so ago.

Bamboo products are also declining in the locality, and people said it was because of resource depletion that people were gradually giving up producing weaves from bamboo.

Chempa Dorji said a few people in the locality were bringing bamboo from Samdrupjongkhar to weave the products.

Farmers also said that maize, their staple diet, was affected in the recent years.

While maize in the area were severely affected by diseases like gray leaf spot and Turcicum leaf blight, farmers say drought and extensive rainfall reduced the yield dramatically over the years.

A farmer from Khayshing said extensive sunshine during spring, when the maize saplings were about a metre high, dried the crop, while extensive rainfall during June and July soaked the crop.

“We couldn’t harvest any yield this year, forget storing,” Sonam, 45, said.

Drought, windstorm, untimely and disproportionate rainfall and extreme cold, said a finding of an assessment of climate change vulnerabilities in the gewog, resulted in the decline of agricultural products in Kangpara gewog.

Conducted on a joint support program by Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and UN Development Program this year, the assessment was conducted to quantify how communities would adapt to changing environmental conditions.

RSPN officials said Kangpara was vulnerable to climate change, as water sources in the area were degraded.

“Bamboo has become extinct, and the area is very vulnerable to earthquake,” the report stated.

The assessment report stated that, although information on climate vulnerability assessment was scanty, the country’s fragile ecosystem was vulnerable to climate change and global warming, because it was wedged between two large, industrialised nations.

“Incidents of floods, droughts, loss of biodiversity, health hazards and poverty due to climate change and global warming effects are the biggest concern of the Bhutanese people,” the report stated.

The assessment conducted in 383 households of 17 villages under Kangpara gewog, it was found that there were problems of irrigation, seed storage and farm labour shortage in the gewog.

Farmer Pema Rinzin said, since agriculture products were being affected, people were seeking alternative employment and leaving the village.

He said young people were seeking employment in construction sector.

Since most villagers are subsistence farmers, and agriculture is based on dry land cultivation, combined with livestock and small kitchen garden, the report stated that villagers depended on forest resources, especially cane and bamboo, which were also used for housing purposes.

RSPN officials said it was important to prepare the community, comprising mostly illiterates, of the impacts of climate change.

The assessment, RSPN officials said, was targeted to produce a consolidated report containing local socio-economic variability and trends, inventory of available indigenous coping mechanisms and strategies, including a climate change adaptation plan.

“The action plan is to reduce exposure and sensitivity of households in Kangpara, and to increase their adaptive capacity,” the report stated. “That way, vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change are reduced.”

RSPN officials said activities, like adoption of community forests, formation of non-timber management group and establishing poultry farms, were ways to address the issue.

Kangpara gewog agriculture extension officer Pema Wangchen said various interventions were implemented in the locality.

“We conducted farmer’s training programs on how to make beds, plant crop on rotational basis and using locally available raw materials,” he said, adding that they also brought seeds from different areas, the yields from which had not improved.

Officials from territorial range office said they do not mark trees in water catchment area to protect water sources.

Meanwhile, some Kangpara farmers said they feared watching the situation worsen.

“We might have to leave our villages, as there’ll be nothing for us to eat,” a farmer said.

By Tashi Dema

Mangroves under threat in Sindh and Balochistan

The Coastal Ecosystem at a serious threat due to a heavy deforestation of mangroves in the coastal areas of Sindh & Balochistan. The global climate change has increased the risk of sea hurricane. The ocean ecosystem may be adversely affected, hurricane caused damage to many times more casualties.

According to the Environmental Organizations working in the Sindh & Balochistan the harvesting of shell fish and fin fish will be significantly reduced.

The mangroves forests are nurseries for both fin fish and shell fish and it also reduces the stress of Hurricanes.

The mangroves also significant reductions the air pollution, and produce much more oxygen than others forest, mangroves forest also reduced the global temperature it is reduced below the sea devastating.

However, there is no restriction on deforestation of Mangroves the Pakistan 885-kilometer coastline of 241 kilometers in Sindh and Balochistan 664 km, Mangroves forests in the Delta severely at risk.

Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world where forests of mangroves spread across the 6 million hectares, but deforestation the forests of mangroves are going down day by day for cattle fodder and fuel. ( Report Syed Jamsheed Bukhari

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Regional collaboration called to save the endangered black necked cranes


Joint action by China, India and Bhutan called for

To save the highly endangered species, their high altitude wetland habitats need to be conserved

Black Necked Cranes:Conservationists are seeking a regional initiative and collaborative action from China, India and Bhutan to save the endangered black-necked cranes.

The call to save the endangered bird species that roost in the Tibetan plateau in summer, and China, India and Bhutan in winter, was reiterated on November 22, when World Wildlife Fund’s officials of India, Bhutan, Pakistan, China and Nepal discussed saving wetlands in high altitudes.

Conservationists say that the 11,0000 black-necked cranes in the world are facing shrinking habitats, owing to the loss and degradation of wetlands, and changing agricultural practices in both its breeding and wintering grounds.

WWF’s head of high altitude wetlands conservation programme in India, Pankaj Chandan, said it was important for scientists from these three countries to work together and monitor the cranes.

“Since the cranes are migratory, it’s equally important for all three countries to contribute for its protection,” he said. “One country’s attempt to save it won’t make sense if there is no equal effort. This conservation effort should go beyond political borders, and black-necked cranes could serve as a goodwill ambassador within the region.”

Bird Sherub of Ugyen Wangchuck institute for conservation and environment, who is conducting a study on the transboundary migration of cranes, said such regional collaboration is vital for knowledge and resource sharing for species conservation.

He also said regional collaboration is important to conserve habitats at landscape level to protect other species depending on wetland. “Besides black-necked cranes, numerous other species of the wetland could be also saved,” Bird Sherub said.

WWF’s program officer in China, Kelsang Norbu, said regional collaboration is a must to save the black-necked cranes, as there are incidences in China, where nesting grounds were lost because of increase in water level due to glacier melt. “It’s important for us to preserve the habitat in all three countries,” he said.

Black-necked crane habitat, conservationists say, could serve as an indicator of climate change.

Pankaj Chandan said he did a comprehensive study on wetlands in Ladakh, India, where there was incidence of water level in wetlands increasing because of glacial melt, and wetlands drying up because glaciers are drying. “Wetlands are like water towers, and it’s important to save them to save the cranes, ” he said.


Bhutanese gushing resource depleting

Almost 10 percent of the Bhutanese glaciers is feared to vanish in the next few decades, which would result in depletion of water resources, the main backbone of Bhutanese econmy besides agriculture

10% of country’s glaciers could vanish

Besides that the amount of melt water coming off Bhutanese glaciers could drop by 30 percent

Geophysical Research Letters: Depletion in, what is, the nation’s gushing resource today, would be the most likely scenario it could expect in not so distant future.
This was based on the findings of Brigham Young University’s professor, Summer Rupper, in her publication, Geophysical Research letters.

The findings indicated that the amount of melt water coming off Bhutanese glaciers could drop by 30 percent.

Her findings also indicated that almost 10 percent of Bhutan’s glaciers would vanish in the next few years, which local glacial researchers said would result in severe water resource depletion in the country in future.

“There would be reduction in water resources and our water-related agencies should plan in accordance with that,” hydro-met services director Karma Tshering said. “We will also have to look out for adaptation measures.”

Karma Tshering, who did the study in collaboration with the university said the study conducted on how the glaciers in Bhutanese Himalayas were responding to climate change indicated that snow and glacial melts not only occur because of rise in temperature but there are other climatic factors.

Wind, humidity, precipitation and evaporation were among the list.

He said the result of the study conducted through glacier mass balance model was close to realistic.

Mass balance, he explained, was an annual basis of study on how much ice was lost because of melt and how much was gained because of snow.

“Snowfall rates in Bhutan would have to be almost doubled to avoid glacier retreat,” he said. “But that is impossible.”

The findings also state that glaciers of Bhutan Himalayas would continue to shrink even if the climate remained steady.

A news release from Brigham Young University stated that instead of doubling the snowfall rate, warmer temperatures led to rainfall.

“If glaciers continue to lose more water than gained, the combination of more rain and more glacial melt increases the probability of flooding — which can be devastating to neighboring villages,” it stated.

Karma Tshering said professor Rupper’s research also indicated that in the long run if there was a rise of temperature by one degree Celsius, Bhutanese glaciers would shrink by 25 percent and the annual melt water would drop by as much as 65 percent.

He said the study helped Bhutan in terms of finding out what sort of glacier mass balance were in effect in Bhutan Himalayas, how much rivers and streams were fed by glaciers and whether there would be problems in water resources in future.

By Tashi Dema