Forest department short of hands to protect, augment city’s greens (April Week #2 (2013))
“There is growing focus on protection and addition of greenery because of rising levels of pollution and greater public awareness and consequent litigations. We need not just to fill vacancies but to create additional posts,” said a top forest department
In reply to a RTI application, the north division, which covers north, northeast and east Delhi, admitted it has 268 sanctioned posts of which 99 are vacant. Against the sanctioned strength of 15 forest guards, responsible for protection of trees, only
five are working. The division is supposed to have 268 labourers to plant saplings and maintain them. But as many as 85 posts are vacant.
Study shows serious threat to coral reef colonies, mangrove forests in Palk Bay (April Week #2 (2013))
A recent study taken up by a team of researchers from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Chennai, brought to light the serious threat of extinction the coral reef colonies and mangrove forests in the Palk Bay are facing. At present, only two per cent
of the coral reefs survive in the area.
In an attempt to restore the dying coral colonies, the ZSI researchers are attempting to transplant live coral colonies from other parts of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and plant them at Palk Bay. This work is done with support and assistance from
various funding agencies, Dr Venkataraman said.
On moms’ trail, Olive Ridley babies get set for a new life (April Week #2 (2013))
As an annual ritual that has amused the wildlife and scientific community for long, the turtles swim from far away places for days to hatch at Rushikulya in Ganjam district and Bhitarkanika in Kendrapara district. Rabindra Sahu, president of the parishad
said mass hatching of Olive Ridley eggs started last Tuesday. And in the three days, more than 3 lakh baby turtles swam into the sea.
In a strange phenomenon called transoceanic migration millions of Olive Ridleys turtles come ashore near Rushikulya mouth during the last week of February for mass nesting every year. This is considered, the second major mass nesting site for the turtles
after Gahiramatha in Kendrapara district.
Tiger kills woman, third attack in 2 days (April Week #2 (2013))
Following the death of two persons in a leopard attack near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district on Wednesday, a woman was mauled to death by a tiger in Chandrapur on Thursday.
"...we have deployed cages to trap the tiger," he said. Meanwhile, the forest department officials captured the leopard that had killed two persons on Wednesday near TATR.
The great Himalayan meltdown (Issue of the week, April Week # (2007))
Glaciers that feed the seven great rivers of Asia — Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, and Huang Ho — are under threat. AS THE world warms inexorably, glaciers in the Himalayas are melting away, putting at risk freshwater supplies for
millions of people in Asia. The 33,000 sq km of glaciers amidst some of the world's highest mountains form the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar ice caps. These glaciers, which release an estimated 8.6 million cubic metres of water annually,
have nourished seven great rivers of Asia — Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, and Huang Ho. Ancient civilisations sprang up and thrived along the shores of these rivers. But now the pace of global warming is threatening the very existence
of the Himalayan glaciers. Since the mid-1970s, the average air temperature measured at 49 stations of the Himalayan region rose by one degree Celsius, with high elevation sites warming the most, noted a report compiled in 2005 by WWF, the global conservancy
organisation. "This is twice as fast as the 0.6 degrees Celsius average warming for the mid-latitudinal northern hemisphere over the same period and illustrates the high sensitivity of mountain regions to climate change," added the report. The Himalayan glaciers
could disappear in the coming decades and the once perennial rivers turn into seasonal ones, noted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the final draft of its report on the impact, adaptation and vulnerability produced by global warming.
"In the course of the century, water supplies stored in glaciers and snow cover are projected to decline, reducing water availability in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges, where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives,"
according to a summary of the report that the IPCC released on April 6. Waters from the melting glaciers would also contribute to rising sea levels, which the IPCC warns would devastate many coastal areas and affect millions of people around the world by 2080.
Longer ablation periods Himalayan glaciers are very vulnerable to climate change, says Syed Iqbal Hasnain, a leading glaciologist who is currently with the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. It is not just that higher temperatures lead to more ice turning
to water. The "ablation period" when the glaciers melt in summer has lengthened. Earlier, by October-November it would start snowing. In recent years, it is still often quite warm during those months and the snows set in only later in winter, he remarked.
The late snows produce another problem. The snowflakes need several months to turn into hard ice crystals. Without the time needed for such transformation, more of the glacier is liable to melt when summer comes, Dr. Hasnain told this correspondent. The south-west
monsoon that brings torrents of rain to the plains of India deposits snow on the upper reaches of mountains in central and eastern Himalayas. But climatic changes have led to rain, rather snow, falling even at higher elevations during the monsoon and this
could accelerate the melting of glaciers, he added. In the face of these threats, the Himalayan glaciers are receding alarmingly. Several studies have indicated that the rate at which these glaciers are retreating has accelerated in recent decades. The Gangotri
glacier, whose melted waters feed the river Ganga, has, for instance, been receding since 1780 but its rate of retreat has tripled in the last three decades. Anil Kulkarni of the Indian Space Research Organisation's Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad and
fellow researchers used satellite pictures to study 466 glaciers in the Chenab, Parbati, and Baspa basins. These glaciers had covered 2,077 sq. km in 1962. But by 2001-2004, the area occupied by these glaciers had shrunk by 21 per cent, reported the scientists
in a paper published earlier this year. As the glaciers retreated, they also became more fragmented and therefore more vulnerable to the affects of global warming. French and Indian scientists have been studying glaciers in the Spiti-Lahaul region of Himachal
Pradesh. In a paper published recently, the scientists found that the glaciers, which occupied some 900-odd sq. km., had experienced "significant thinning at low elevations" between the fall of 1999 and November 2004. Worse still, the rate of ice loss in the
glaciers during that time was about double the average for the Himalayas between 1977 and 1999. This indicated "an increase in the pace of glacier wastage," observed the scientists in their paper. However, in an email, Etienne Berthier, the first author of
the paper, noted that the survey period had been short and further monitoring was required to assess a long-term trend. A modelling exercise carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Britain found that as the Himalayan glaciers melted in the face
of global warming, there would initially be an increase in river discharges, which could produce widespread flooding, and then the river flows would decline. The model studies indicated that flows in rivers originating in the western Himalayas could peak in
2050 and in 2070 for rivers originating in eastern Himalayas, according to Rajesh Kumar of the Birla Institute of Technology extension centre in Jaipur, who was involved in the study. "Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding, rock avalanches
from destabilised slopes and affect water resources within the next two to three decades," according to the latest IPCC summary report. This would be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers receded, it added. Scientists have estimated that melting
snow and glaciers provides up to 80 per cent of the dry season flows of the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra rivers in the lowlands. As these river flows fall, agriculture, water supplies on which millions of people depend, and power generation will be badly
affected. Glacial retreat in the Himalayas, along with possible changes in monsoon rainfall as a result of climate change, would have far-reaching consequences for water availability in the South Asian region, points out Prakash Rao, senior coordinator for
the climate change and energy programme at WWF India. Water-sharing disputes within and between countries in the region, that were already proving troublesome, could worsen as a result, he told The Hindu. SOURCE : The Hindu, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Fire engulfs Parambikulam, Nelliampathy forests (April Week # (2007))
The wild fire raging in parts of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary andthe adjoining Nelliampathy forests has destroyed hundreds of acres offorest tracts and plantations. The fire that broke out in theThuthampara forest area of Parambikulam sanctuary, borderingNelliampathy
forests, on Saturday is still continuing and the fire thatbroke out couple of days ago at Thenmala Valley and Pothundy areas atthe foothills of the ecologically fragile Nelliampathy Hills too wasraging. The efforts to douse the fire were yet to succeed in
Thenmalavalley even on Sunday evening. However, the fire that engulfed acres offorest and some plantations in Thuthumpara area in Parambikulamsanctuary was put down due to the efforts of 100 labourers ofThuthampara Estate of Poab's Group and the forest firewatchers
underthe Nemmara Forest Division. Nenmara Divisional Forest Officer K. Babutold The Hindu that the department was trying its best to control thefire in Parambikulam and Nelliampathy forests. One of the reasons forthe fire was the lack of pre-monsoon rain in
the area. Mr. Babu saidthat forest fire could be prevented only with the cooperation of thepeople. There were cases when some people set the forest on fire, whilesome were accidents. Sometimes, negligence on the part of those who goto collect forest produce
and honey also caused fire. The DFO said someof the retrenched forest firewatchers were also allegedly to behindsuch forest fire. One person was arrested on Saturday in connectionwith the fire in Thenmala valley in Nelliampathy. He said that thedepartment
had spent Rs.10 lakh for anti-fire measures in Nemmaradivision this year. Daily wage firewatchers whose services wereterminated in March were taken back due to the incidents of forest firethis time. Since the area used to get summer rain during March-April,the
services of firewatchers were not commissioned after February, hesaid. Meanwhile Thomas Jacob, director of Poabs Organic Farm inNelliampathy, said that there was no proper management by the ForestDepartment. The department had taken over the fire and wind
belts ofhis estate at Karuna Plantations but had not managed it properly, healleged Tourists coming to Nelliampathy had also become a threat to theforests and plantations. The Forest Department was unable to controlthe tourist flow. Some of the tourists indulged
in activities thatdestroyed the forest and plantations. Uncontrolled tourism activity inNelliampathy, known as the `poor man's Ootty,' was threatening its veryexistence, Mr. Jacob said. He said that due to the fire, wild animalssuch as elephant, wild pig,
bison, deer etc., had entered into theplantations and were destroying the crops. K. Baby, manager of Karunaand Thuthampara Estates, said Nelliampathy was facing an unprecedenteddrought this summer. The temperature had touched 34 degree Celsius inApril. He
said that average temperature in Nelliampathy was between 14degree Celsius and 26 degree Celsius. The area used to get rain induring January, February, March and April. But this year, there wasonly 4 mm rain in January and after that there was no rain. Crops
suchas cardamom, tea, coffee, pepper, etc., had dried up and if there wasno rain within a week the majority of the plantations would bedestroyed, he said. SOURCE : The Hindu, Monday, April 09, 2007