Monthly Archives: October 2011

Highlands, southern region urged to better protect forests


DAK LAK — Authorities in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and Southeastern regions need to tighten measures to reduce deforestation and strictly punish offenders, says Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at a seminar on forest protection in the two regions held in Central Highland Dak Lak Province last Saturday, Phat said they have had the nation’s worst deforestation record in recent years.

Over the past five years, the forest area in the Tay Nguyen and Southeastern regions has fallen by nearly 160,000ha, accounting for 31.6 per cent of the country’s total deforested area.

Of this figure, 95,500ha have been used for agriculture and other purposes, nearly 52,000ha were plantations that were completely cut down under annual plans, 1,700ha were lost to forest fires and more than 10,000ha were illegally cut down, the seminar heard.

So far this year, the Tay Nguyen and Southeast regions have discovered nearly 9,000 cases where forest protection regulations had been violated, up four times against the same period last year and accounting for 40 per cent of the cases nationwide.

Ha Cong Tuan, deputy head of the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), said most of the deforestation cases were in forests allocated or leased to companies for implementing agriculture and forestry projects.

Illegal loggers did not directly destroy forests but they hired local residents to do it and transport the wood for them, making the task of protecting forests more difficult, Tuan said.

Dinh Van Thiet, deputy chairman of the Dak Lak People’s Committee, said methods should be found to help local residents earn a living from forests in a sustainable manner and prevent migrants from moving into forests. Local residents and migrants directly destroyed the forests most often, he said.

Participants at the seminar said some localities have not fulfilled their administrative management responsibilities in forest protection. Many lacked the determination to order implementation of forest protection measures, they said.

They noted that most localities had left the task of protecting forests to rangers and those to whom forest land had been allocated for care and protection, but most of these people were ill-equipped for the task at hand.

In addition, management of wood processing units as well as wood purchasing sites in the two regions was lax and ineffective, the seminar heard.

Experts stressed that strong sanctions against violations were needed to protect forests.

Phat asked authorities in the Tay Nguyen and Southeastern regions to carry out an inventory of their forest land and reform the operations of agriculture and forestry farms as well as forest management boards.

He also told the regions to tighten inspections of the transfer of forests and forestry land for other purposes and the operations of wood processing units. They should work with competent agencies and local authorities to effectively fight illegal logging, Phat said.

The Tay Nguyen and Southeastern regions now have nearly nine million hectares of forests, accounting for 27 per cent of the country’s total.

On Sunday, Phat worked with authorities of the 115,545-ha Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak Province, the country’s largest reserve, on methods to evaluate deforestation within its boundaries.

Phat said his ministry had ordered the park’s management board to co-operate with competent agencies to tighten their protection measures and strictly punish rangers who joined hands with illegal loggers.

The national park’s director had to bear a part of the responsibility for letting deforestation happen in the park, he said. —VNS

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Number of threatened or endangered species in Salish Sea almost doubles in 2 years


A studyunveiled today, October 26, 2011, shows the number of species, in the Salish Sea which are threatened, endangered, or  candidates for listing,  has nearly doubled in the last two years. When last tallied in 2008 there were 64 species. Today there are 113.

Species of concern are species that warrant special attention to ensure their conservation. In the Salish Sea, four jurisdictions list species: British Columbia’s Provincial Government, Washington State, the Canadian Federal Government and the US Federal Government. The SeaDoc Society has tracked species of concern since 2002.


In 2004 the US Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada adopted the metric as a transboundary ecosystem indicator, recognizing that the number of species listed is a crude measure of the health of the ecosystem. For scientists the list illustrates where cross-jurisdiction (State or Provincial/Federal) and transboundary (US/Canadian) collaboration is needed to recover declining species.

According to Nick Brown, the SeaDoc Society scientist who presented the findings today at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, the dramatic increase is due to our increased understanding of the species that use the marine waters as well as a true increase in the number of species listed in the last two years.

Brown said “about half, or 26 of the 49 newly added species, were already listed and were added because we didn’t consider them users of the Salish Sea until a recently published paper identified them.

He also pointed out “more importantly, 23 species including five fishes and 15 birds were added to the list because they were listed by one or more jurisdiction in the last two years.”

These included listings of five fish species (Pacific Sardine, Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon, and Surf Smelt) as well as 18 bird species (American Kestrel, Band-tailed Pigeon, Belted Kingfisher, Brant, Cackling Goose, Clark’s Grebe, Horned Grebe, Green Heron, Killdeer, Long-tailed duck, Yellow-billed loon, Red Phalarope, Rough-legged Hawk, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Buller’s and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, and the Snowy Owl).

Co-author Joe Gaydos said “even if we just consider the 23 newly listed species, this is the greatest jump seen since we began tracking this in 2002.”

The list historically has climbed by 1-3 species per year. Gaydos pointed out that the increase in species listed is good in that it shows that the listing agencies are paying attention to species in decline, but bad in that it is an example of the slow decay of our ecosystem.

In light of projected increased population growth, on-going habitat modifications and expected climate change, Gaydos expects the number of listed species in this ecosystem to continue to increase and pointed out that it’s time to increase efforts and “bring out our A-game to recover declining populations before it’s too late.”

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Butterflyfish at Risk for Extinction


Coral reef degradation put Chevroned butterflyfish at risk for extinction.

The chevroned butterflyfish are facing extinction due to rising ocean temperatures affecting their main food source

Chevroned butterflyfish are at risk for extinction as coral reefs continue to degrade due to pollution and climate change, a journal study found.

In the study, Dr. Morgan Pratchett and Dr. Michael Berumen of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found butterflyfish eat only one type of coral – Acropora hyacinthus. The fish will disappear when it runs out, they said.

The team tested butterflyfish in tank trials on a range of different corals. The butterflyfish grew well when their favorite coral was available – but when it was removed and other types of corals were offered, the fish grew thin and some died.

The coral that butterflyfish feed on is vulnerable to attacks by starfish, storms and coral bleaching caused by the heating of ocean surface waters, which is thought to be linked to global warming.

A previous case in which a coral-dependent fish vanished occurred in the case of a Gobiodon, a specialized coral-dweller known only from one site, Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea. The fish was thought by scientists to have possibly become extinct after its habitat was destroyed.

Researchers said such extinctions are likely to occur as part of the global mass extinction of species now taking place, and that marine ecosystems may be particularly vulnerable because small changes in habitat or water quality can have a big impact on their species.

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Rhino poached to extinction in Vietnam: WWF


AFP – A critically endangered species of rhino has been poached to extinction in Vietnam, wildlife groups said Tuesday after the country’s last Javan rhino was found dead with its horn hacked off.

The Javan rhinoceros was pronounced extinct in Vietnam by WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) after all dung samples in a 2009 and 2010 survey at Cat Tien National Park — the only known habitat — were confirmed to have been from the animal.

“The last Javan rhino in Vietnam has gone,” said Tran Thi Minh Hien, WWF Vietnam country director. “Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage.”

In a new report, WWF suggests poaching was the likely cause of death for the rhino, which was found in April 2010 with a bullet in its leg and its horn removed in the national park in southern Vietnam, around 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City.

The group said “ineffective protection by the park was ultimately the cause of the extinction” and warned that illegal hunting to supply the wildlife trade threatened the futures of other rare animals in the country.

“The tragedy of the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros is a sad symbol of this extinction crisis,” said Nick Cox of WWF’s species programme in the Greater Mekong.

He said efforts to protect natural habitat and deter poaching “were inadequate to save the Javan rhino” in the country and predicted the “continued situation will no doubt lead to the extinction of many more species in Vietnam”.

The rhinoceros was believed to be extinct on mainland Asia until 1988 when one of the animals was hunted from the Cat Tien area, leading to the discovery of a small population.

Javan rhinos are critically endangered, with barely 50 individuals left in a single group in a small national park in Indonesia.

WWF said Asia’s voracious demand for rhino horn for traditional medicine continues to increase every year, meaning “protection and expansion of the Indonesian population is the highest priority”.

The group said other species on the verge of extinction in Vietnam include the tiger, Asian elephant and Siamese crocodile.

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Illegal Fishing Threatens to Drive Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Extinct

For Immediate Release, October 18, 2011

Contact:  Catherine Kilduff,             (415) 644-8580

Illegal Fishing Threatens to Drive Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Extinct

WASHINGTON— An analysis of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna trade data released today shows that harvests of the imperiled tuna are more than double the legal amount. This calls into question the National Marine Fisheries Service’s June decision, responding to a Center for Biological Diversity petition, that found bluefin were not endangered as long as there is a high degree of compliance with total allowable catch levels.

“Illegal fishing is rapidly pushing eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction. Rather than turn a blind eye to this ongoing crisis, the Fisheries Service needs to give this dwindling species the protection it needs to survive,” said Catherine Kilduff, a Center staff attorney. “Endangered Species Act protections are necessary to stop U.S. imports from the Mediterranean and begin rebuilding this population, crucial to the health of Atlantic Ocean and our fisheries.”

The Pew Environment Group report found that in 2010, the amount traded on the global market was 141 percent above allowable catch levels (32,564.9 metric tons). That doesn’t include “black market” bluefin missing from trade records. Discounting illegal fishing, the Fisheries Service’s denial of listing for the bluefin determined that a 5 percent probability of extinction in 20 years is a reasonable threshold for endangered status. At catch levels of 30,000 metric tons, there is an 8.5 percent probability that fewer than 500 adult bluefin tuna will survive in 2030.

Highly migratory, warm-blooded fish, Atlantic bluefin tuna include two genetically distinct populations, one that spawns in the Mediterranean (the “eastern Atlantic” stock) and a much smaller population that spawns in the Gulf of Mexico (the “western Atlantic” stock). Today’s analysis of the eastern Atlantic stock has implications for both stocks because of cross-Atlantic mixing. Capable of speeds over 55 mph, bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean traverse the ocean in a matter of weeks as early as age one. Overfishing means that fewer Mediterranean tuna reach U.S. waters.

“Skyrocketing consumer demand for bluefin tuna has driven overfishing and lax enforcement of international agreements,” said Kilduff. “After years of recognizing the problem, but not implementing a solution, the international community must ban trade until bluefin tuna populations rebuild.”

In August 2011 the Center requested that the United States propose Atlantic bluefin tuna for protection under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the major international treaty on endangered species. CITES protection would ban cross-border trade in Atlantic bluefin, potentially improving compliance with catch limits. The next CITES meeting will occur in 2013.

In response to the decline of the bluefin, the Center last year launched a nationwide boycott of bluefin tuna. (Visit for more information.) More than 25,000 people have joined the Center’s campaign and pledged not to eat at restaurants serving bluefin tuna; dozens of chefs and owners of seafood and sushi restaurants have pledged not to sell bluefin.

According to a McKinsey & Company report released last month, current bluefin harvesting levels are projected to drive the eastern Atlantic fishery to collapse between 2012 and 2015. If illegal and unreported fishing could be 100 percent eliminated, the fishery could recover by 2023. But impressively, if the fishery were to be completely closed, according to the report, it would recover within eight years.

For more information about the Center’s campaign to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna, visit:

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wins 2011 Rubber Dodo Award

For Immediate Release, October 14, 2011

Contact: Kierán Suckling (520) 275-5960

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wins 2011 Rubber Dodo Award

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the recipient of its 2011 Rubber Dodo Award. The award is given annually to those who have done the most to drive endangered species extinct.

Previous winners include former BP CEO Tony Hayward (2010), massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).

Rubber dodo

No business lobby has done more to halt effort to stop global warming than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It has opposed every significant piece of climate legislation in Congress and is cheerleading the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial, 1,700-mile project that poses acute dangers to the land and water it passes over and pushes us deeper in the climate crisis by dramatically ramping up dependence on fossil fuels.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets the 2011 Rubber Dodo award for shamelessly shilling for corporations that pollute our air, dirty our water, ruin our climate and wipe out endangered species habitat,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center.

The Chamber spent some $32 million during the 2010 elections, with more than 90 percent going to climate-denying candidates. The Chamber, which has an army of lobbyists and an array of front groups, has consistently opposed bedrock environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the most environmentally destructive forces in America. It puts profits above all else, including human health, human rights, the environment and wildlife,” Suckling said.

More than 7,000 people cast their votes in this year’s Rubber Dodo contest. Other official nominees were giant pesticide manufacturer Syngenta and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who’s launched a disinformation campaign opposing Endangered Species Act protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard. Hundreds of write-in votes were given to Congress, Monsanto, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, President Obama, Sarah Palin and Wall Street. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, though, was the clear winner.

Background on the Dodo
In 1598, Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, three-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it’s the dodo — the most famous extinct species on Earth. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.

Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681, the dodo was extinct, having been hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover and pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.
The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning “sluggard,” the Portuguese word doudo, meaning “fool” or “crazy,” or the Dutch word dodaars meaning “plump-arse” (that nation’s name for the little grebe).

The dodo’s reputation as a foolish, ungainly bird derives in part from its friendly naiveté and the very plump captives that were taken on tour across Europe. The animal’s reputation was cemented with the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Based on skeleton reconstructions and the discovery of early drawings, scientists now believe that the dodo was a much sleeker animal than commonly portrayed. The rotund European exhibitions were accidentally produced by overfeeding captive birds.

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