Monthly Archives: October 2008

Fish could face extinction if barrage is allowed, campaigners say


FISH stocks in rivers leading to the Severn Estuary could face extinction if a barrage is built, according to campaigners.

Members of the Stop the Barrage Now group believe fish using the estuary to go between freshwater spawning sites in the Usk and Wye could be wiped out due to a barrage.

The issue has also been highlighted by The Severn Rivers Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association.

A campaign spokesman said: “These rivers contain EU-protected species including salmon.

“A barrage would act as a physical barrier to movement and would also result in adverse environmental and water quality changes.

“The estuary is also hugely important for its intertidal habitats, which are dynamic environments that are used by both freshwater and marine fish species.

“A report by the Sustainable Development Commission predicts a barrage would result in the loss of 14,000 hectares of intertidal habitat.

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WWF: eco credit crunch looms large over world


NEW DELHI: The world is headed for an ecological credit crunch as human demands on its natural capital have reached one- third more than what the earth can sustain.

This warning comes in the latest edition of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Living Planet Report. In addition, global natural wealth and diversity continue to decline, and more and more countries are slipping into a state of permanent or seasonal water stress.

“We are acting ecologically in the same way as financial institutions have been behaving economically – seeking immediate gratification without due regard for the consequences which are even graver than the current economic meltdown.”

The report, published every two years, shows a near 30 per cent decline since 1970 in nearly 5,000 populations of 1,686 species.

These dramatic losses in natural wealth are driven by deforestation and land conversion in the tropics (50 per cent), and the impact of dams, diversions and climate change on freshwater species (35 per cent decline). Pollution, over-fishing and destructive fishing in marine and coastal environments are also taking their toll.

According to the report, produced with the support of the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, more than three-quarters of the world’s people now live in countries that are ecological debtors, where national consumption has outstripped their country’s biological capacity.

“Most of us are propping up our current lifestyles and our economic growth, by drawing – and increasingly overdrawing – on the ecological capital of other parts of the world, says WWF International Director-General James Leape. “If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by mid-2030 we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles.”

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and land disturbances are the greatest component of humanity’s footprint, underlining the key threat of climate change.

The U.S. and China have the largest national footprints, each accounting for total of about 21 per cent of the global biocapacity, but each U.S. citizen requires an average of 9.4 global hectares while Chinese use an average of 2.1 global hectares per person.

Biocapacity is unevenly distributed, with eight countries – the U.S., Brazil, Russia, China, India, Canada, Argentina and Australia – having more than half the world total.

Population and consumption patterns make three of these countries ecological debtors, with footprints greater than their national biocapacity – the U.S. (footprint 1.8 times national biocapacity), China (2.3 times) and India (2.2 times).

This can be contrasted with Congo with the seventh highest per person biocapacity of 13.9 hectares and an average footprint of just 0.5 global hectares, but facing a future of degrading biocapacity from deforestation and increased demands from a rising population and export pressures.

Around 50 countries are facing moderate or severe water stress and the number of people suffering from year-round or seasonal shortages is expected to increase as a result of climate change.

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Perth’s native birds face extinction as bush is ripped out for housing


More than 80 per cent of Perth’s most prominent native birds face extinction if land clearing continues at current rates, according to alarming new research that puts the spotlight on the State’s planning practices.

An extensive University of WA study of native birds on the Swan coastal plain has found that only about a dozen of the 65 birds examined would survive past 2050 if more native bush was not retained and exotic plant species banned.

The 15 species most at risk of extinction are the scarlet robin and a group containing 14 species including the splendid fairy-wren and the western, inland and yellow-rumped thornbill.

UWA School of Animal Biology research associate and study leader Robert Davis said Perth was facing a tide of potential bird extinctions. He said 83 per cent of the 65 birds studied needed a 2km radius of native vegetation for their survival.

Those areas were now limited to the fringes of the metropolitan area, with the exception of Kings Park and Bold Park and some other suburban reserves.

Clearing in regions such as Baldivis and Wanneroo was also taking place at a rapid rate, further depriving bush birds of natural habitat.

“The best thing that urban planners could do is to stop clearing all native bushland prior to housing construction, retaining as many native trees and plants as possible,” Dr Davis said. “Australia seems to be one of the few places in the world that develops in this way whereas in Europe trees are retained wherever possible.”

The two-year study, which was funded by the Federal Government, examined 121 sites and found common urban species such as the brown honeyeater, red wattlebird, singing honeyeater and Australian raven would be among the few that could survive land clearing in the future.

Dr Davis said long-term studies at Kings Park had documented the loss of nine species and the decline of 14 other species in the past 60 years. He said new estates needed to plant local native species and ban planting nonlocal species in public streetscapes.

The amount of native bushland left as public open space during development was “grossly inadequate” and the State Government needed to address this through planning and better legislation.

The study was a joint Perth Biodiversity Project and Birds Australia project led by the Perth Region Natural Resource Management group.

The management group said local government had a major role to play in banning the planting of exotic streetscape plants and providing free local plants to residents.

Chairman Colin Heinzman said the agency would work with land managers to ensure that planning for the metropolitan area took into account issues such as the loss of local native bird species.


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South Korea pushing birds to extinction


A huge land reclamation project in South Korea is pushing endangered species towards extinction, Reuters has reported.

A report by Birds Korea and Australasian Wader studies group has claimed that the Saemangeum land reclamation project has removed one of the largest feeding grounds on the Yellow Sea for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.

Specifically, the study identified that numbers of the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper and the spotted greenshank are being reduced further by the destruction of wetlands.

“The evidence very strongly indicates that most shorebird populations are declining in the Republic of [South] Korea,” Reuters reported the study as saying.

“Within Saemangeum, [we] recorded a decline of 137,000 shorebirds, and declines in 19 of the most numerous species, from 2006 to 2008,” the report added.

There are currently 2,500 spoon-billed sandpipers left in the world, although recent research showed that population numbers are dropping so rapidly that the bird is on the verge of extinction.

News brought to you by International Animal Rescue, leaders in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

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Pangolin, tapir listed as endangered in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR, Oct.13 (Xinhua) — Pangolins found in Malaysia and Thailand has officially listed as “endangered” this year, or under the threat of extinction, a local newspaper said on Monday.

The Malaysian tapir has also been officially cited on the 2008 Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the News Straits Time said.

The newspaper last month reported that illegal trading on pangolins was found increasing. From 1998 till 2007, 34 cases of pangolin smuggling were reported and 6,000 specimens were confiscated in the country.

Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia and East Asia, more than 30,000 specimens were seized.

The number of the tapir, which can be found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, estimatedly declined more than 50percent in the past three generations, or 36 years, the daily said.

The leopard in Malaysia has also been reclassified from “least concern” to “near-threatened”, it quoted local officials as saying.

The status of the Sumatran rhinoceros and the Malayan tiger remained unchanged: “critically endangered” and “endangered” respectively.


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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added the Alaskan Beluga Whale to the list of species that deserve special protection. The decision contradicts Alaskan Governor and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.

The population of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales has dropped to about 375 from a 1995 high of almost 700 individuals. The listing means that government projects and permits will have to demonstrate that no harm will come to the whales during a project.

The whales face a multitude of threats, and Palin’s decision to challenge the listing in April delayed a research study designed to determine the biggest threats to the whale population. Killer whales are the natural enemy of beluga whales.

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Burmese Fish in Danger of Extinction


RANGOON—A Burmese fish, known locally as ngaphayone (Anguilla bengalensis  bengalensis), is in danger of extinction due to increasing exports, particularly to China, where its larvae is also in high demand.

Many Chinese believe that ngaphayone increase blood flow and bestow luck to those who eat them. Ngaphayone are also used in traditional Chinese medicine, said a merchant who exports fishery products to China.

”This fish is a medicinal fish, and it gives strength to men,” he said.

Ngaphayone live in both freshwater and saltwater and spawn in rivers, creeks and tributaries. They breed from June to August.

It is against the law to catch ngaphayone during the breeding period, but the law is difficult to enforce, said a fisheries department worker.

In local markets, the fish sells from 3,500 to 40,000 kyat ($1 equals about 1,200 kyat) per viss, depending on size (1 kilogram is equal to 0.6 viss). In the export market, 1 kilogram sells from $6 to $10. Ngaphayone gain weight at the rate of about 8 grams in 18 months.

“The price of ngaphayone is increasing rapidly because of high demand and low supply” said one trader.

A university biologist said, “This kind of fish breeds one time in its life and may take15 years to breed. After breeding, the fish dies. It has a strange behavior, and it needs to be protected. It is in danger of extinction due to over exploitation and lost of habitat by shrinking rivers and creeks.”

Ngaphoyon, caught around Rangoon, the Irrawaddy delta, Pegu Division and Arakan State, are exported to China through the “105-mile gate” at Muse in northern Burma.

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