Call for climate-smart brick kiln technology

KATHMANDU/ISLAMABAD: During extensive discussion among experts from 11 countries, it was concluded that negative impact of traditional brick klins on health, agriculture and climate can be tackled with replacing these with climate-smart brick klins.

Participants at the “South-South Exchange Workshop on Brick Technology and Policy” identified viable solutions to achieve this goal.

The two-day event, which concluded here today was held in Kathamndu and organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

Climate experts said modern brickmaking technologies that cause far less pollution than traditional brick kiln technologies are need of the our. But it is not possible to achieve without increased political recognition of the problem, particularly in the major brick making countries of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Participants also shed light on the importance of inter-ministerial coordination among ministries of housing, industry, health, agriculture and environment to achieve large-scale reductions at the national level as well as at regional scales.

Bricks are a primary construction material used in many regions, and brick production is known to be a highly polluting activity, resulting in emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), such as black carbon, along with a range of other pollutants.

The workshop was convened by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and jointly hosted by the National Institute of Ecology in Mexico and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu.

In his opening address, Secretary Krishna Gyawali of the Ministry of Industry in Nepal highlighted the urgency of the problem and noted the brick sector consumes more than 50 percent of the total coal in Nepal. He also noted the importance of continued research on black carbon by ICIMOD and others in relation to the melting of the Himalayas and glaciers around the world.

“It is high time to accelerate mitigation of black carbon and other pollutants from key sources, such as brick kilns,” he said.

The majority of brick kilns in operation are traditional kilns, also referred to as artisanal kilns. The primary fuels used to fire the bricks are coal, wood, local biomass and any available low-cost fuel or scavenged fuel, such as bunker fuel, waste oil, used tires, sawdust, plastics, battery cases and dung.

Yet, limited access to electricity makes it a challenge to modernise and mechanise the sector, experts grumbled at the workshop.

The CCAC will carry on the discussion and consider priorities for reducing SLCPs from brick production at its next meeting in July 2013.

The story published first in Lahore Times on May 11, 2013.
The weblink: http://www.lhrtimes.com/2013/05/11/call-for-climate-smart-brick-kiln-technology/ 

Cross-border collaboration can help improve conservation, spur uplift in South Asia

KATHMANDU/ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development have joined hands to put a regional framework in place for cooperation on important transboundary landscapes, said a media release.

Recognizing the global and regional significance of transboundary landscapes, the Government of Nepal through its Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation has been working closely with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and partner institutions from Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal to facilitate the development of a regional cooperation framework for developing Transboundary Landscape Conservation and Development Initiatives.

Cooperation across borders for the management of landscapes will help preserve the Hindu Kush Himalayan region’s unique biological diversity, valuable ecosystem goods and services, and value-based cultural and natural heritage while enhancing livelihood opportunities of the local communities of the most revered and sacred transboundary landscapes in the world, namely Kailash and Kangchenjunga.

In this context and for future cooperation in other landscapes, the Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), Dr. Krishna Chandra Paudel, and the Director General of ICIMOD, Dr. David Molden, signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in an official function held today at Hotel Himalaya. Prior to the ceremony, MoFSC held the 2nd National Coordination Committee Meeting for Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, in which several key decisions were taken for the implementation of the programme on ground.

This MoU envisages areas and modalities of cooperation based on the understanding reached and broad areas identified for focusing the collaboration by both parties.

The implementation of this MoU will be effected through agreements with key Nepalese institutions that share the common vision of long-term conservation initiatives based on regional transboundary cooperation and ecosystem management approaches.

The Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative is the pioneer programme supported by UK Aid and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through German International Cooperation (GIZ).

This initiative will go a long way in forging transnational cooperation between China, India, and Nepal by proactively engaging them in ensuring the sustained management of ecosystem services and protecting the welfare of millions of people living both upstream and downstream.

The story published first in Lahore Times on May 3, 2013.

Weblink: http://www.lhrtimes.com/2013/05/03/cross-border-collaboration-can-help-improve-conservation-spur-uplift-in-south-asia/

ICIMOD, MoFSC launch near real-time forest fire alert system

Kathmandu/ISLAMABAD: An operational remote sensing-based forest fire detection and monitoring system for Nepal was officially launched today by the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) during a regional policy workshop at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) headquarters in Kathmandu.

The system, which was piloted in Nepal over the last year, uses active fire data generated by ICIMOD’s MODIS receiving station for near real-time detection of forest fires.

The system is also equipped with an automated alert system, which sends email and SMS notifications to subscribers, including District Forest Officers and focal persons of the Federation of Community Forestry Users in all 75 districts.

The system is the first of its kind in the region, and ICIMOD is planning to implement similar systems in other countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

Over the three-day workshop, 30 senior officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan joined experts from the United States Forest Service, NASA, and SERVIR-Himalaya – an initiative at ICIMOD supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and NASA – to receive a two-day technical training on operational forest fire detection and monitoring systems equipped with SMS and email alerts.

The training was followed by a day-long discussion on policy, which helped identify gaps in technology, capacity and policy in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region and foster regional cooperation for improving forest fire management. The workshop was organized by ICIMOD under the SERVIR-Himalaya Initiative in close collaboration with United States Forest Service (USFS). It was supported by USAID and the US Department of State.

Dr. KC Poudel, Secretary of MoFSC, emphasized the importance of the workshop, and the need to develop forest adaptation strategies under changing climate scenarios that evaluate available mitigation and adaptation options and identify policies and instruments to support adaptation.

“Changing climate scenarios call for different approaches to forest resource management. The technology and know-how on geospatial support systems that ICIMOD and its partners have shared with the Ministry and other relevant departments will play a major role in improving the management of Nepal’s valuable forest resources,” Poudel said.

“The US Forest Service is pleased to participate in the workshop and share geospatial technology experiences with the countries of the HKH region. Despite differences in geography and culture we share many of the same needs for robust geospatial solutions. The result is responsive and sound forest fire management’ said Brian Schwind, Director USFS Remote Sensing Application Center.

“This workshop is an important step in strengthening the capability of countries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region to better manage forest fires. ICIMOD is excited to be involved in developing and sharing innovative geospatial systems to provide timely reporting of forest fire incidence in the region along with the support and technical collaboration of USAID, NASA the US Forest Service, and the US Department of State,” said Dr. Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD.

In addition, ICIMOD announced that the 2010 Nepal Land Cover Database will be made available to the public for validation through a crowd-sourcing application on the Centre’s online Mountain GeoPortal. Basanta Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager of the Mountain Environment Regional Information System (MENRIS) programme at ICIMOD, said.

“As part of regional land cover mapping at ICIMOD, the 2010 Nepal land cover database will provide the basis for natural resources accounting at the national level”. ICIMOD has completed land cover mapping and change assessments in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Pakistan as well.

Dr. MSR Murthy, Geospatial Solutions Theme Leader at ICIMOD, said, “With validation from its end users, the interactive mapping system will serve as an important information asset in the natural resource sector”.

The story first published in Lahore Times on April 12, 2013.

Weblink: http://www.lhrtimes.com/2013/04/12/icimod-mofsc-launch-near-real-time-forest-fire-alert-system/