Tag Archives: nature
Tennessee Valley Authority to Be Sued Over Plans to Close Endangered Species Breeding Facility to Make Room for Coal Equipment, Waste
Fore Immediate Release, December 20, 2012
|Contacts:||Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681
John McFadden, Tennessee Environmental Council, (615) 330-5364
Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 607-1262 x 222
Charlie Wilkerson, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, (615) 351-0586
Mary Mastin, Tennessee Environmental Council, (931)-268-2938
Tennessee Valley Authority to Be Sued Over Plans to Close Endangered Species Breeding Facility to Make Room for Coal Equipment, Waste
NASHVILLE, Tenn.— A coalition of environmental groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for forcing the closure of a rearing facility for endangered fish and mussels at the Gallatin Fossil Plant for a controversial construction project. The project would shutter the Cumberland River Aquatic Center to make room for coal combustion equipment and a series of 15-story-tall coal-ash dumps. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Tennessee Environmental Council and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association jointly filed the notice under the Endangered Species Act.
“It’s just ludicrous that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s shutting down one of the most successful endangered mussel hatcheries in the country to make room for coal ash and equipment — and without any regard for the law,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Cumberland River Aquatic Center is critically important to preserving endangered freshwater mussels, which serve an important role in protecting water quality throughout Tennessee and the Southeast. Nearly $800,000 of public funds has been spent to build the center’s conservation program, but TVA has unilaterally ordered the center to close to make way for its broader plans to spend more than $1 billion to overhaul the obsolete and polluting Gallatin Fossil Plant. TVA is required to support the center’s operations in order to compensate for damage its dam systems do to endangered wildlife throughout Tennessee. With the breeding facility closed, that damage will continue unabated while TVA continues to pollute.
“It’s bad enough that the TVA plans to continue to burn coal, putting our health and climate in danger; now it’s busy hammering nails into the coffin of the region’s endangered fish and mussels. It’s adding insult to injury,” said John McFadden, executive director of the Tennessee Environmental Council.
TVA, a federal corporation, announced its plans to shutter the aquatic center last month in an “Environmental Assessment” document required to install air-pollution-control equipment at the coal-fired power plant. The corporation ordered the aquatic center to be dismantled without undertaking public review and without consulting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the effects on endangered species, both of which are required by law. The closure of the facility also directly harms endangered mussels, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
“At a time when other major electricity providers are moving into the future with cleaner, more efficient options, TVA is taking a major step backwards by doubling down on a plant that’s over 50 years old. TVA customers will foot the bill for this outrageously expensive plan that locks Tennessee into an outdated and destructive energy system for decades to come,” said Louise Gorenflo, lead volunteer for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Tennessee.
Independent economists have criticized TVA’s plans for ignoring lower-cost options that could preserve the aquatic center while also meeting customers’ energy needs. The coalition is calling on the corporation to save the hatchery and transition the plant away from burning fossil fuels. Upgrades on the plant’s pollution equipment would cost more than $1 billion; the groups are urging TVA to spend the money on energy efficiency and clean-energy alternatives instead of extending the life of the old coal-fired power plant.
The Cumberland River Aquatic Center has been remarkably effective at rearing endangered mussels; last year alone the facility produced 18,000. It is the most productive hatchery in the country for rearing the endangered pink mucket mussel, and also rears lake sturgeon and alligator gar.
“Freshwater mussels are amazing animals that serve as barometers of stream health and water quality. They are a critical part of our river ecosystem, and the impact of shutting down the Cumberland River Aquatic Center would be immeasurable,” said
Charlie Wilkerson, president of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.
More species of freshwater mussels are found in the American Southeast than anywhere else in the world, but 75 percent of the region’s mussels are now at risk of extinction. Freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of animals in the United States, with 35 species already having been declared extinct. Once widely used to make buttons and jewelry, mussel shells, like trees, accumulate growth rings that can be used to determine their age. Freshwater mussels can live for centuries, making them among the longest-lived invertebrates.
“Tennessee’s freshwater mussels have beautiful shells, beautiful names, and play a crucial role in the natural and cultural heritage of the region. We should do everything we can to help save them from going extinct,” said Curry.
Man and beast have tussled for eons on who gets to be on top of the food chain. In the end, man came out on top with guns blazing. Such the tables have turned, that it has sent the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in to a scramble to protect a fledgling yet endangered leopard population in the wildlife reserve of Ayubia National Park, Galiyat.
“The focus of advance research is to find out threats to common leopard, check out its migration range and for adopting latest measure on scientific grounds for conservation of wild cats in the region”, Wasim Ahmad, a coordinator for the international non-governmental organisation, working to save the endangered species of wild cat.
Talking to APP, Wasim said that their target was to install radio collars on at least two leopards in order to track their movement. For this purpose traps have been set up around the park.
Though the population of big cats in Galiyat is satisfactory, but still the species continues to face numerous threats like a fast shrinking habitat, human-leopard conflicts and reducing forests, Waseem added. Galliyat, he continued, is home to the largest population of common leopards in the country and reduction of habitat for the rare wild species is posing a threat to its survival in the region.
Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs seized a batch of health-care food, dried seafood and endangered species with a total value of about $8 million in a smuggling case at Lok Ma Chau Control Point last Saturday (January 5) and arrested a 52-year-old male driver.
During an anti-smuggling operation at Lok Ma Chau Control Point last Saturday, Customs officers intercepted an outbound cross-boundary truck with a 40-foot-long refrigerated container which was declared as carrying 9 675 kilogrammes of “deer antlers”.
Upon X-ray examination and detailed cargo inspection, Customs officers found a batch of unmanifested cargo, including dried crocodylia meat, bird’s nests, dried syngnathus, dried seahorses, dried snake galls, dried deer tails, dried deer tendons, dried geckos and New Zealand honey, worth around $8 million inside the refrigerated container. Among the seizures, the dried crocodylia meat and dried seahorses were endangered species. Customs investigation is continuing.
A Customs spokesperson said today (January 7) that smuggling and exporting endangered species are serious offences.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of attempting to export unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animal and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of exporting a specimen listed on Appendix II of the Ordinance without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
He added that Customs will take continuous action against smuggling activities and urged members of the public to report any suspected smuggling activities to Customs through Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Source: HKSAR Government
Pethia Cumingii known as ‘Depulliya’ in Sinhala is now a native endangered species.
According to The Island newspaper, in 1991 this ornamental fish was found in eight locations, but in 2012 its habitat has reduced to five.
Found in mountain streams in Sri Lanka, basically in the Kalu Ganga. The habitats of this fish are spread in Horana, Ingiriya and Bodinagala in Colombo.
Environmentalists yesterday urged the government not to ease the regulations regarding the export of endemic species of freshwater fish and plants to boost the profits of the ornamental fish exporting industry.
According to environmentalists, the Wildlife Conservation Department (WCD), on the instructions of the Economic Development Ministry, was to formulating rules and regulations to ease the export of rare, endemic and protected freshwater plants and fish.
Environmentalists accused the ornamental fish exporting industry of seeking to loosen regulations in order to boost their earnings.
Addressing the media, at the National Library Auditorium on Wednesday (09), Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Director, Sajeeva Chamikara claimed that if those rare, endemic and protected species, which were protected under the flora and fauna protection ordinance, were removed from their original places, for the special breeding system, they would be extinct in a short time.
He warned that freshwater fish, some that have been named only in the recent past, were under threat due to over fishing for export.
Chamikara stressed that people would collect those species from their native environment to the point of extinction to make money.
Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunawardane said that if the present trend of over exploitation continued, all 91 species would face the same fate as many endemic freshwater fish.
According to Nadeeka Hapuarachchi, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the freshwater fish were the most widely traded wild species from Sri Lanka and the severe threat faced by endemic fish included habitat degradation and water pollution by increased human activities and over exportation.
Meanwhile, ornamental fish exporters claimed that by easing the restrictions, they can recapture a larger share of the export market and use a portion of the proceeds to do work that will go much further towards protecting Sri Lankan habitats, which are under serious threat due to severe pollution.
WCD Director General, H. D. Rathnayake told The Island that the WCD had been funded to prepare rules and regulations to allow breeding and export of eight endemic, rare and protected species of freshwater fish and 13 species of freshwater plants on the instructions of the Economic Development Ministry.
Ratnayake noted that the WCD wouldn’t allow those species to be caught from their native environment.
Man arrested about to skin croc
Acting on a tip-off, the Puttalam police arrested a man who slaughtered a crocodile close to the Pawattamduwa tank.
The police said that at the time the police entered the man’s land a kilometre away from the tank, the suspect was ready to skin the nine foot long reptile, according to The Island newspaper.
New evidence has revealed that koalas may be extinct on the New South Wales far south coast.
The first stage of a study looking at the animals in the Eurobodalla has recorded only one koala being spotted since the research began at the start of 2012.
The project’s co-ordinator, Keith Joliffe, said habitats have been identified in the region.
But he said there are no koalas living in those spots.
“There’s no persistent evidence of resident koalas in the Eurobodalla,” Mr Joliffe said.
“We’d probably refer to that as a dispersing animal because they’ve come from another area and at this stage, we have to contemplate the possibility that our generation has witnessed function extinction within the Eurobodalla borders.”
Mr Joliffe said more research is needed to confirm the initial findings.
“What we need to do is to recheck some of the findings on eucalyptus types,” he said.
“We need to apply a much more controlled statistical device and include all sorts of other habitats in that area.”
Mr Joliffe said it would need to be a specific study.
“We’d need to concentrate on the potential of the landscape to support low density in the sense that it will revive koalas that are adapting to less than optimum habitats,” he said.
“When we look at that we find like it may still be some viable habitats in the area.”
He said another survey will soon be done in the region.
“In terms of whether there are any resident groups of koalas in the shire, we can’t know that without a comprehensive survey,” he said.
“We’re going to try some sample work ourselves and we’ll have a little expedition.”
Trang’s 150 sea cow population faced extinction in a few years from now, as trawlnets were still being used and gang hunting of the dugongs had been revived, a local activist warned yesterday.
He said dugong heads were selling for medicine-making at Bt15,000 a piece on the overseas black market.
Koh Libong Community’s Tourism for Conservation Club head, Isma-an Bensa-ard, said 17 dugongs died last year and 11 carcasses had been found buried to harvest the bones. Most dugong deaths came from illegal fishing tool usage as seen in Kang Tang and Had Samran districts, while state agencies were not acting effectively due to work redundancies and negligence. At the same time orders from overseas for dugongs were prompting gangsters to hunt them, he said.
Andaman Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Centre official Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong agreed the dugong situation was in crisis and last year saw confirmed dugong deaths in Trang and one in Phuket.
They resulted mostly from dugongs being trapped in trawlnets, he said.
New Delhi: Sundarbans, one of the largest sanctuaries for the Royal Bengal tiger in the world, is undergoing changes in its ecosystem due to “human pressures” which threaten the population of endangered species including the big cat, a new study says.
The study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also says that the Indian side of Sundarbans is being subjected to various anthropogenic and natural processes affecting the distribution, quality and diversity of its mangroves.
“Human pressures and ecosystem changes are combining to threaten the population of endangered Royal Bengal tigers, one of the iconic species of the Sundarbans,” says the report titled ‘Sharing Lessons on Mangrove Restoration’.
The Sundarbans, covering 10,000 sq kms of land and water (more than half of it in India, the rest in Bangladesh) in the Ganges delta, contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests. A number of endangered species live in the forests, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.
Currently, over 4.2 million people live on the fringes of the Indian Sundarbans, resulting in high anthropogenic pressures on the mangroves and their resources.
“In recent years, climate change, regulation of freshwater flow, illicit mangrove felling, poaching and unplanned embankments for settlements have emerged as the main threats to the ecosystem,” the report says.
It says that the central part of the Indian Sundarbans receives almost no fresh water because of heavy siltation and clogging of the Bidyadhari channel.
“Seawater intrusion has further affected the growth of dominant mangrove species such as the freshwater-loving Heritiera fomes. The influence of salinity and effects of climate change, though not well-understood, appear to be promoting the invasion of alien species in some parts of the Sundarbans,” the report adds.
Scientists feel that hunting and the trade in body parts are the most serious threat facing the polar bear
For a millennium, the majestic, lily-white polar bear has lorded over the frozen wastes of the Arctic. But if two Russian experts are to be believed, the enigmatic “monarch of the ice” could be extinct in 25 years due to global warming and human incursions into their traditional habitat.
“If current policies are not changed, we can lose polar bears, which currently number 20,000-25,000 globally, within one (human) generation,” Nikita Ovsyanikov, member of the polar bear specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said.
Ovsyanikov and his compatriot, Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Russia, were here for the 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management organised by the environment and forests ministry and many wildlife NGOs.
The polar bear (or Ursinus Maritimus), the largest member of the Ursidae (bear) family, is also the largest terrestrial land carnivore and is found largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and land masses.
“Today, this area belongs to five nations: Denmark (which administers Greenland), Norway (which administers the Svalbard archipelago), Canada, the United States (of which Alaska is a part) and Russia,” said Ovsyanikov.
So, why is the polar bear in grave danger? “It mainly faces threats such as habitat loss due to global warming and continuing human incursions into the Arctic, pollution, hunting for sport and subsistence as well as trade in body parts,” he added.
Both scientists feel that hunting and the trade in body parts are the most serious threat facing the polar bear.
The bear has been hunted since times immemorial by indigenous Arctic people, including the Inuit and Eskimos in Alaska and Canada and Yupiks, Nenets, Chukchis and Pomors in Russia. But they never hunted the species in excess of their requirements.
Trouble started with white European expansion and colonisation of the Arctic. The Europeans brought modern hunting practices and the notion of supply and demand of bear parts dictated by market forces. Everything has gone downhill after that.
In the later part of the twentieth century, the five nations finally woke up to the threat.
“The Soviet Union banned all hunting in 1956,” Vorontsova said.
Canada began imposing hunting quotas in 1968.
“Norway passed a series of increasingly strict regulations from 1965 to 1973 and has completely banned hunting since then. They only shoot some bears in conflict situations,” said Ovsyanikov.
“The United States began regulating hunting in 1971 and adopted the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. In 1973, the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed by all five nations,” said Vorontsova.
The treaty was a landmark in polar bear conservation, but loopholes remain and have morphed into big threats.
“The treaty allows hunting by local people using traditional methods. And that is the most tricky part. Because the aboriginals, mostly in Canada and Alaska, lease out their hunting quotas to foreign hunters, who in turn indulge in overharvesting polar bears for trading their body parts in foreign markets,” said Vorontsova.
According to some estimates, each year, approximately 600 polar bears are hunted in Canada and the parts of 441 are internationally traded.
“There is a growing market for bear pelts in Russia and China. What adds to the problem is that the polar bear is listed in Appendix 2 of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), rather than Appendix 1 which would have guaranteed that there was no commercial trade in its parts,” said Vorontsova.
The other threat facing polar bears is global warming.
“It is impacting populations in the Russian Arctic,” said Ovsyanikov.
“A high percentage of cubs are lost. Females can’t breed. Individuals become famished. They have to survive on land as coastal refugees, instead of pack ice lost to warming. Also, there is pollution, oil drilling and increased susceptibility to diseases.”
Still, global warming would not make the polar bear extinct.
“These bears have survived six global warmings since they first appeared on earth. They won’t disappear by global warming alone but by a combination of factors,” said Ovsyanikov.
What is needed is more lobbying for the endangered animals, said Ovsyanikov.
“We need a broad international lobbying and consensus to save the bear. If we don’t do that, we will have only ourselves to blame.