भारत-अमेरिका विकसित करेंगे ग्लोबल वार्मिंग का मुकाबला करने वाला गेहूं

भारत और अमेरिका मिलकर गेहूं की ऐसी नयी प्रजाति विकसित करने का अनुसंधान करेंगे जो ज्यादा गर्मी बर्दाश्त कर सके। इस परियोजना पर करोड़ों डॉलर खर्च होने का अनुमान है।

कार्बनिक धूएं के चलते वायुमंडल के अधिक गर्म होने जलवायु चक्र में परिवर्तन को देखते हुए आने वाले समय में गेहूं ऐसे कृषि फसलों की ऐसी प्रजातियों की जरूरत महसूस हो रही है जो में ज्यादा तापमान में फल फूल सकें। वाशिंगटन स्टेट यूनिवर्सिटी के भारतीय मूल के एक अमेरिकी वैज्ञानिक को गेहूं अनुसंधान परियोजना का नेतृत्व दिया गया है। इसमें दोनों देशों के वैज्ञानिकों को शामिल किया गया है। इस कार्यक्रम को यूएस एजेंसी फॉर इंटरनेशनल डेवलपमेंट (यूएसएड), भारतीय कृषि अनुसंधान परिषद (आईसीएआर) और गेहूं अनुसंधान निदेशालय (डीडब्ल्यूआर) से सहायता मिलेगी।

यह पहल विश्व में भुखमरी दूर करने और अनाज उत्पादन बढ़ाने की अमेरिकी सरकार की भविष्योन्मुखी पहल का भविष्य में उदर-पूर्ति का अंग है। यूएसएड के एक बयान में कहा गया कि इस परियोजना के तहत पांच साल में जलवायु परिवर्तन प्रतिरोधी गेहूं की कुछ किस्मे विकसित कर लेने का लक्ष्य है।

परियोजना के निदेशक कुलविंदर गिल ने कहा कि अनुसंधान उत्तरी भारत के मैदानी इलाके में केंद्रित होगा जहां करीब एक अरब आबादी रहती है और उन्हें सीमित जल संसाधन और बढ़ते तापमान की चुनौती का सामना करना पड़ता है। उन्होंने कहा कि खाद्य सुरक्षा के लिए यह पहल उल्लेखनीय है कि इसका असर उत्तर भारत के मैदानी इलाकों से कहीं दूर तक होगा।

उन्होंने कहा कि इस परियोजना से विश्व के सभी गेहूं उत्पादक क्षेत्रों को फायदा होगा, क्योंकि बाली आने के समय तापमान बढ़ना गेहूं उत्पादक क्षेत्रों के लिए सबसे गंभीर चुनौती है। परियोजना में भारत और अमेरिका के कई कृषि संस्थान और विश्वविद्यालय और कंपनियां शामिल होंगी। गिल ने कहा कि इस अनुसंधान में 35 पीएचडी छात्र और 30 रिसर्च फेलो भी शिरकत करंेगे।

 

Call of the wild

RAMESH PRASAD BHUSHAL

CURBING WILDLIFE CRIMES
Body parts of more than 1,400 tigers have been seized across Asia in last 13 years, which is about half of the world’s total population of wild tigers (estimated at 3,200). The report published by TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, titled Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited , revealed this alarming fact during the meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok last week. This shows how rapidly the illegal trade of wildlife parts has grown globally. Not only the tigers but many wild animals including elephants and rhinos have been poached and many will fall prey to illegal traders if conditions remain the same.

Poaching of African Rhino in South Africa has grown from 13 in 2007 to 658 in 2012. In last decade more than 1,500 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. Likewise, in 2011 an estimated 25,000 to 40,000 elephants were killed by poachers for ivory trade in Africa. Many more crimes remain unreported. This is more than enough to illustrate that the global wildlife crime is increasing rapidly and actions taken by governments is inadequate.

With this global scenario, the South Asian region—comprising of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka—that is home for 15 percent of the world flora and 12 percent of fauna has also been hit hard by networks highly active in transnational organized wildlife crimes. Despite efforts of governments and other concerned agencies to nab the poachers, the criminal networks are using advanced technology and exploiting weak law enforcement to transport wildlife body parts in the region.

Billions of dollars are invested across the globe to conserve forests and wildlife, while millions of people are committed to saving these endangered species. But at the same time well-networked criminal groups are earning billions by selling wildlife body parts and plant species, thus threatening many endangered flora and fauna. If this trend continues, the efforts of the world conservation community in the last few decades will go to waste. The world now has to realize that unless immediate actions are not taken and joint efforts are not initiated to nab the criminals and break their strong networks, the future generation will have no option than looking at posters and pamphlets of many species now in endangered list.

According to estimates, the annual transaction in animal body parts is more than US $10 billion, turning it into the third largest illegal trade after weapons and drugs. On the one hand wildlife are facing problems due to habitat degradation, human encroachment in the jungles and parks, rapid urbanization and increasing human population and their demand for forest products and at another hand, criminal networks are targeting the species and killing them for money, which might ultimately result in the extinction of the species that are already threatened or endangered.

There are some encouraging signs as the wildlife trade has started to receive attention of leaders across the globe, including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On November 8, 2012 Clinton gave a rare keynote speech on wildlife trafficking at her office in Washington DC where US diplomats from all over the world were invited. “Over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before,” she said while also admitting that the US is the second largest consumer of the wild body parts. The seriousness of top level leaders in US has been applauded by the conservation community.

China is said to be the largest consumer of wildlife body parts. However, the number of consumers is increasing all around the world. With the economic boom, the number who can afford expensive wildlife body parts has also increased demand that has encouraged the criminals. The organized criminal networks are using poor families near national parks and protected areas for poaching and are trading body parts of poached animals through various trade routes across the globe. South Asia is one of the major trade routes. The traders in illegal wildlife parts have been using various routes to smuggle body parts into China and South East Asia as well as bringing various parts of South Asia.

The issue of illegal wildlife trade entered the global arena in 1960’s and in 1973, the international agreement called Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) was signed, with the goal of controlling wildlife trade. Till date 177 countries are parties to the convention. The sixteenth meeting of the parties to the convention was held in Bangkok in the first two weeks of March where the trade issue was debated with gusto. Though governments across the globe had realized as far ago as 40 years that wildlife crime needs to be dealt seriously, their actions proved to be inadequate to control the rapidly growing illegal trade of species all over the world.

The governments agreed in Bangkok that only strong enforcement of laws related to wildlife crime could help curb this problem but at present, there is lack of adequate information sharing between the countries on illegal wildlife trade. There is still very little willingness to share information regionally and globally. As animals are poached in one country and transported to another, there needs to be a cooperation and collaboration mechanism between the countries and strong willingness to share available information and intelligence as fast as possible so that the traders can be nabbed and punished on time. This is yet to happen in South Asia, even though there have been some initiatives in last few years.

Though late, action against wildlife crimes is increasing and governments have started to act more seriously. Almost all regions in the globe have established regional networks to act closely and enhance cooperation and collaboration to fight wildlife crime, which has raised hope in conservation sector. In South Asia, eight countries have established a regional network called South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). The government of Nepal hosts the permanent secretariat in Kathmandu which has been working to enhance cooperation among member countries.

It’s not easy for the countries to share all information due to security reasons, but they can definitely share information regarding wildlife as wild animals have no political boundary and we are all in the common cause of saving wildlife in the region, which in turn will be instrumental in saving global ecosystems. The willingness of the countries in South Asia to enhance cooperation and collaboration to fight illegal wildlife crime has cheered up the conservation community, for it is the one and only way of curbing illegal transnational trade of wildlife.

In the search of maroris

http://www.sindhexpress.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=130020800&Issue=NP_HYD&Date=20130402

 

In the search of maroris

 

This story portrays the life of poverty stricken coastal children, who collect maroris (local name), an eatable item looks like a tinny bamboo covered with shelf, live inside narrow burrows in the sea mud. Catching crabs and collecting marori– a family of precious sea snails– from the mangroves plants and muddy area near the isolated beaches is attractive job for minor children of fishermen community. Mostly these children themselves are bread earners of their poor families.

These marine species provide better source of livelihood to a large number of children living at the isolated islands off the Karachi beaches.

Several children originally belong to coastal villages of Karachi, live with relatives at far off island villages and work as daily wager, collecting such items for middlemen, who supply the same to the local market. Mostly boys drop salt into the mouth of scattered burrows with small stick and marori comes out rapidly, which they collect.

These boys and girls travel long distance in the search of crabs and sometimes spend whole day to collect maroris from the far off beaches, because they have almost emptied the nearby beaches.

They said these unaware children do not know how they are destroying their own resources. Greedy traders offer sufficient amount to children, engaging them to collect everything that is available near beaches and their abodes. These children should be enrolled in schools to save their future, but the reason these children themselves narrate is that majority of them belongs to poor families and themselves are bread earners.

Some of the elders living at the islands said crabs and snails are sea creatures, to whom they never tried to destroy, calling it natural wealth. But now the poverty has compelled many people, who if not catch more fish, engage their children to collect maroris. He said at beaches like Karachi, there are no maroris visible. These are far off beaches near mangroves forests and muddy island zones.  According to the community elders snails keep the sea water clean.

Middlemen visiting there frequently buy such items, paying Rs25 per kg to children. But at the village jetties they resell the same item costly, at Rs125–175 per kg. Sharing their experience, elders say, there is a chain of this trade and marori is a valuable item, attracts foreign market.

There are some warehouses and small factories near coastal villages of Ibrahim Hydri and Rehri, in which women and children boil these sea species and get stuff, which after processing and packing is being exported to other countries.

Elder community people recalling the past blissful days say maroris were available at the all beaches for long but they never collected it. Now the poverty, declining fish catch and joblessness have forced the community youth to collect it for the sell.

On 22nd December 1992 the general assembly of United Nations announce to celebrate world water day on 22nd march. Nature has gifted Pakistan with natural resources as well as water resources, and we are not using this resources on proper way. Every year the amount of water which are waste on sea without using it make many dollars. In 1951 the water resources in Pakistan were 5650 cubic meter but in 2002 it was recorded 1400 cubic meter, it is 1000 cubic meter .It is written in the report of UN that the amount of water flash in the washroom of developed country , with that amount of water the living things of the other world use for their drinking purpose, for the making of meal and for washing clothes. The use of water increases day by day. According to UNESCO the citizens of developed countries uses 10% more water than the developing countries. Developed countries uses 500 to 800litres of water daily and the developing countries uses 60 to 150litres. If the use of water will remain same then after 25 years the water will not be enough for human beings in the Earth. According to report of UNESCO there are 263 countries which are connected to each other by river. There are 145 countries in which river flow from the border of one country and enters into other country, Pakistan and India are also included in these countries. The 263 rivers have one-third part in the middle of more than two countries. According to report the seven wars have been fought in the world. The UN introduces water day to stop the misuse of water, but the developed countries are not in the control of UN so which effect they would face for not making the water day? Pakistan must solve their water problems with Afghanistan and India so Pakistan have to inform UN and UN will help Pakistan only in that case if Pakistan will carefully make Dams and stop the misuse of water.

Ecological hazard: With denuding of Queen of Hills, it all comes crumbling down

 

Sonia Malik

MURREE:

Farid Ahmad Abbasi is no stranger to landslides. He has rebuilt his century-old house for the fifth time, different parts of which were damaged in the wake of subsequent landslides since 1996. “The landslides have left fissures in the remaining building and there’s a landslide whenever it rains,” said the 43-year-old taxi driver.

Incidents of landslides rose due to the construction of Murree Expressway over the last decade, he added. To pave way for the 120-feet-wide road belt, many trees had to be chopped down. Later the edges of the road were built, however no trees have been planted in most parks of the community forest that encompasses 98,000-acres.

According to a change analysis study, vegetation patterns during the last five decades, reveal that the local forest has suffered 13 per cent deforestation. This in turn has caused active landslides to increase unprecedentedly; from 10 in 1996 to about 132 in 2013.

District Officer (Forests) Javed Gill said, “Landslides have surged not only due to the ongoing construction on the highway but also because no serious efforts have been made to plant more trees which prevent soil erosion and mudslides.”

Over 100 houses in 22 villages in the community forest, suffer persistently as a result of landslides, which become frequent during monsoon. Murree receives 2,000 mm rain annually of which 1,700 mm pour between late July and mid-September. Other downpour and snow months making up for 400 mm are between December and February.

Zahid Ahmad, a plumber, said he has had to rebuild his own and his brother’s houses almost annually since the last 15 years. “We wrote requests to the National Highway Authority (NHA) and local MPAs to ask for financial help several times but nothing happened,” he said.

Before 2005, he had also inherited about 15-kanal agricultural land comprising apple and apricot trees, however he ended up losing all of the agricultural land to landslides. “It washes down the hill. Nothing stays,” he added.

He said the problem stems from water channels. Once the rain pours in, the water channels are flooded and move downstream. This disturbs the fissures in the hill, particularly those where the trees have been chopped down, causing the mud to slide downhill and onto houses.

Locals chop tree branches for fire, but fewer cut down trees, he said, adding that no officials of any government department have been witnessed planting trees along the highway or other places within the forest.

Gill believes the capacity building of local communities regarding need for forests can turn around things. “The state-owned forest is being rehabilitated now with help of WWF-Pakistan and their degradation is now six per cent, half of the community-based forest. Therefore there is greater need to save community forests,” he said.

Some plantations done by the locals have mostly been of broad-leave trees. These trees can only be utilised for firewood and provide lesser shade as compared to the indigenous conifer species.

Murree forests make up for the biggest conifer forests of Punjab. They are also the most vulnerable in the country due to the rapidly spreading twin cities. However, the government gives no funds for the community forests.

District Forest Officer (Hazara Division) Gauhar Mushtaq said they lack funds. Since 1950, the department is being run by selling 7,000 dried up conifers, that are chopped down every three to four months. A 25 per cent of the revenue goes into paying salaries of the staff while the remaining into construction of schools, dispensaries or wells.

“When we invite experts to share facts, they don’t show up. The government refuses to set a budget either,” he added.

Moreover, he said the NHA has sought its environmental impact assessment through the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency. “We have nothing to do with but even then, nothing has been done to make up for the deforestation,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2013.

150 farmers in Thatta to learn multiple crop cultivation

THATTA: Nearly 150 farmers in Thatta will learn how to cultivate multiple crops and adjust to the new cropping calendar.

Through a project initiated with the help of three community-based organisations in Thatta, local farmers will find a lot of relief in their work. The project director, Haseeb Kiani, called the project, “the first local adaptation plan of action in response to climate change at the grass root level.”

Lead Pakistan in Muzaffargarh district will also launch a similar project – training 450 farmers to build salinity drains, necessary to drain excess rain water to the canals while preventing soil erosion and water logging problem, leaving the land unsuited for agricultural purposes. The pilot projects, launched last week in Thatta and a week before in Muzaffargarh, are set for completion by April 2014.

Kiani, the director for Lead’s Climate Leadership for Effective Adaptation and Resilience project in 13 districts across South Punjab and Sindh, said they are interviewing 150 people in each district about the changes in response to extreme weather, floods, and uneven rain patterns.

The year-long training project in Thatta was launched on March 29. Interviews with local farmers revealed that winters are becoming shorter while summer season is becoming longer, said Kiani. This has delayed the cropping period since the traditional sowing season for wheat started on October 15 and lasted till the first week of November. With shorter winters, it has moved as farther as December 15, he pointed out.

Many crops do not survive because most local farmers are still following the old cropping calendar. This had led to low yields or has damaged the entire crop of wheat, sunflower, sugarcane and cotton. This programme will train farmers on techniques for maximum utilisation of their land. For one field, they will be trained to crop cotton or wheat along with some local vegetables. If one crop is damaged, the other could serve as a financial cushion, he explained.

The vulnerability study for Muzaffargarh, worst hit by the floods in South Punjab in 2010 revealed the foremost demand to establish salinity drains. Old ones are broken down or non-existent in most areas, he said, adding that uneven monsoon patterns also make these drains an absolute necessity.

Their studies also revealed that only 1.5 million acres of the total 2.5 million acres remains cultivable in Muzaffargarh. Salinity and water logging cannot be blamed entirely for the land becoming infertile, but they are definitely one of the big reasons behind the loss of agricultural land, he said.

The farmers who manage to establish salinity drains will be given small incentives. “This will not only encourage them to build drains they are to benefit from, but will also encourage other farmers to build similar ones to prevent flooding and water logging in the future.”

After the interviews, a vulnerability assessment report is compiled and then focus group discussions are held. Following the focus group discussions, Lead will prepare a local plan of action. So far, assessment studies and focus groups have already been held in Layyah, Dadu, Badin, Muzaffargarh and Thatta, while the plans of actions are in process.

Lok Sanjh, another Islamabad-based NGO, is conducting research to prepare local plan of actions for farmers in Attock, Chakwal and Rawalpindi districts of North Punjab and in Layyah in South Punjab. Its founder, Shahid Zia, said a project to understand climate change will last a year, but a plan of action and implementation will take more time. Research is underway on crop rotation and seed management given the changing weather in these regions, he added.

Five years ago, Zia also introduced the system of rice intensification, a climate-resilient rice growing technique, in northern districts of Punjab. Over 500 farmers are currently applying the technique to grow rice crop.