Are tourists killing the Rafflesia?

All parties are important in ensuring sustainable tourism is successful – the local community (Orang Asli), tour operators, tourists, planning authorities (Kelantan Forestry Department) and NGOs (in this case Universiti Malaysia Kelantan).

Planning Authority’s view:

Kelantan Forestry Department director Datuk Zahari Ibrahim said the department had received information on the threat posed by visitors who stopped by while on their way to Cameron Highlands, or enroute to Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu, especially at Pos Jedik, which was part of the Lojing Permanent Forest Reserve.

“Some tourists step on the buds and host plants without realising the damage.

“It should not happen in the first place because the Rafflesia Kerri is among the state’s tourism products, and all parties, including travel agents, must play their role in keeping the flower safe,” he said.

Zahari said to protect the plant under the High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) management plan for the Rafflesia kerri species, the state government had decided to fence 18 plots on a 50ha land at the forest reserve, from which visitors would be barred from entering.

University’s view

The dean of UMK’s  Natural Resources and Sustainability Science department, Zulhazman Hamzah, said the university was aware of the threats and had taken necessary measures to help the authorities.

“The tourism sector is a likely contributor to the destruction of the Rafflesia’s habitat,” he said.

He said the university also started awareness campaigns to educate the Orang Asli and other communities in the state about the preservation of the flower.

“We have been promoting the Rafflesia as a tourist attraction in Lojing Highlands for some time now.

“This provides the Orang Asli more job opportunities as they can work as tour guides.

“We also give talks and share our knowledge with state government departments, local agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the flower’s recovery and its potential to help the people through eco-tourism activities.”

Source: New Straits Times

Disease and death after Hurricane Matthew

The threat of hurricanes is not just storm surges, floods and the ferocious winds encountered as they made landfall.

Threats from the lack of clean water, decomposing bodies and the lack fo food and medical supplies due to problems with accessibility exacerabates (worsens) the already dire situation – especially in very poor countries like Haiti.

The other threats of conflict – starvation and disease

The paradox: Nigeria is Africa’s 2nd richest nation. However, the Northeastern corner of the country has been marred by conflict and clashes with militants, causing it to be isolated from aid. Information about the crisis is also limited due to the lack of action by the government and  the lack of journalists and aid groups on the ground.

As the conflict continues, the people’s living conditions continue to worsen as food and basic medical supplies remain out of reach.

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Across the northeastern corner of this country, more than 3 million people displaced and isolated by the militants are facing one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters. Every day, more children are dying because there isn’t enough food. Curable illnesses are killing others. Even polio has returned.

About a million and a half of the victims have fled the Islamist extremists and are living in makeshift camps, bombed-out buildings and host communities, receiving minimal supplies from international organizations. An additional 2 million people, according to the United Nations, are still inaccessible because of the Boko Haram fighters, who control their villages or patrol the surrounding areas.

“We will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere,” unless immediate assistance is provided, said Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. official focused on humanitarian aid for the region.

The staggering hunger crisis created by the insurgents has been largely hidden from view, partly because it has been extremely dangerous for aid groups and journalists to visit the area. But institutional failures have exacerbated the situation: For over a year, the United Nations and humanitarian groups dramatically underestimated the size of the disaster, and the Nigerian government refused to acknowledge the huge number of people going hungry in Africa’s second-richest nation. Thousands of people have already died because of the inaction, aid experts say.

 Source: Washington Post

Hurricane Matthew’s Aftermath

A week after Hurricane Matthew (Oct 2016) hit Haiti, the death toll had climbed to 1,000 people, and United Nations agencies struggled to bring aid to devastated communities. The scope of the destruction on the Caribbean island nation is so dramatic it can be seen from space.

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One of the most obvious changes is vegetation loss – this includes the loss of farmland that Haitian’s require for food (many farmers are subsistence farmers)

Another obvious change: the amount of sediment coursing out of the rivers and streams. This is seen from the visible change of the waters in the bay seen above, as exposed soil is washed to rivers and eventually the sea without the protection of roots of vegetation.

Source: http://landsat.visibleearth.nasa.gov/

 

Threats to Singapore Coast – oil Spills

Oil spills cause not only enviromental damages to coastlines but also economic impacts and potentially threats to food security especially in coast countries like Singapore, where fish farms are found out at sea.

A day after two ships collided in Johor waters, oil patches were found along coastlines in the north-eastern part of Singapore, while an 800m stretch of Changi Beach was closed on Thursday (Jan 5) to clean up the oil spill.

A second fish farm in the affected area also reported fish deaths from the spill, although the authorities said most farms were spared and impact on supply was “minimal”. Nonetheless, some farms have been told to suspend sales, until food safety tests are completed.

When TODAY visited Mr Timothy Ng from 2 Jays Pte Ltd at his farm off the north-western coast of Pulau Ubin, cleaning personnel could be seen working to remove swathes of black oil.

This was “the largest such incident” to hit his 12-year-old farm, which is among those hit with a suspension. A visibly-disappointed Mr Ng said he could not do much with his fish stock now, except to put aerators into the fish cages to pump in fresh air.

“We cannot feed any fish now, since the food will be contaminated, so for now, we will just have to wait and see,” said Mr Ng, adding that “no more than 10kg” of fish had already died due to the oil spill.

His farm has around 10 tonnes of fish and seafood, and four employees.

Source: Todayonline

 

Land grabs in Myanmar

In rural northern Myanmar, land is everything.

From the villagers who ply the fields, to the nation’s vast military, every inch of soil has its purpose for someone – a means to feed a family, make a fortune or weaken an enemy.

Yet in Kachin, there is little balance between the meagre and the mighty.

Over decades of civil conflict and military rule, the rights of farmers have withered away. Land grabbing was, and remains, rife and the state government’s Ministry of Agriculture has admitted it is nearly powerless to solve many of the resulting disputes.

Chinese-backed plantations for rubber and bananas are well established across the landscape near Naung Chain. That has not resulted in any influx of local jobs, however.

Most of the workers have migrated here from other states; locals say the hours are long, the pay is low and they prefer not to be tied to labouring for Chinese bosses.

In fact, Chinese land acquisition and control is a point of concern for not just farmers, but the state government as well. There are no exact figures for how much farmland is currently being used by Chinese businesses, but it is estimated by observer groups to be thousands of acres, where mainland workers are hired and produce is sent across the border to be sold.

Land grabs aren’t new, see the post on land grabs in Zimbabwe in an earlier post. Similar in both cases, local farmers suffer:

“At that time, we just did hillside cultivation. We grew plants like rice, yams and sesame,” the 64-year-old said in her home in the dusty village.

But the land her family tended sat adjacent to an emerging rubber plantation and six years ago, she said, it was confiscated and sold to a tycoon businessman by a corrupt local administrator. She received no compensation and it is now being rented to a Chinese company.

“We only do farming so we didn’t have any income. We had a lack of food supplies. We had to rent cows and buffaloes because we didn’t own any. We struggled a lot,” she said.

Source: Channelnewsasia