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Monday, February 14, 2011

new himalayan caucus will not wait for global agreements to fight climate change

The consequences of climate change on food, water and energy security are the most important concerns for governments across the Himalayan region

As the effects of climate change increase all around the world, four Himalayan nations (Bhutan,
Bangladesh, India and Nepal) have taken a step further in fighting climate change through a unified adaptation plan for the mountainous region.
The countries will adopt the regional action for adapting to impacts of climate change at the ‘Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas’ to be held in Thimphu on October 14 this year , where leaders of the four countries will come together and pledge to support and implement the action plan.
This will be a significant milestone for countries that are the most affected by climate change even though these countries contribute less toward it. The four nations will set an example to the world that, even after the failed Cancun summit last year, countries in the Himalayas still have the determination to fight climate change.
Speaking to Business Bhutan, the executive secretary of Bhutan Climate Secretariat, Tashi Jamtsho, said while a lot of attention is being given to climate change at the global level, there is an immense need to address the issue of Climate Change at the local level.
“It is appreciated that climate change is being considered important and the global community is in the process of coming out with a concrete solution. In the meantime, we have to build climate change resilience,” said Tashi Jamtsho, adding that action at national and local levels can no longer wait for a global agreement.
At the recent country focal persons meet at Thimphu, the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said that actions must be expedited at local, national and regional efforts. “Climate change is a shared problem and regions bound by common issues and geographical boundary should coordinate efforts to deal with its impacts on the Himalayan biodiversity,” said the minister. The focal persons’ meet took stock of the progress in the four participating countries, agreed on a common
Frame work for developing the regional roadmaps, agreed on the role of the Secretariat and the technical partners of the Summit and set deadlines for events leading to the Summit.
Climate change in the Himalayas has various consequences on food, water and energy security. The rapid melting of glaciers, erratic and unpredictable weather, changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures impinge on the ability of mountain populace to sustain their livelihoods. Therefore, the most important concerns to be addressed by the 10- year adaptation plan are ensuring food security, water security, energy security and biodiversity.
The four working groups based in each of the four countries will hammer out details on these four targets over the following months. Bhutan will organize the ‘biodiversity experts’ group meeting,’ likewise Bangladesh, India and Nepal will organize water, food and energy experts meeting respectively. These meetings will produce regional road maps for the four themes while key elements to be included in the Summit declaration will also be proposed and agreed upon during these meetings.
The regional road maps will then be finally harmonized and consolidated during an experts’ group’s consolidation meeting in Bhutan in August where all the experts from four countries on all four themes will come together. The experts will also agree on a draft declaration to be endorsed during the Summit.
The harmonized road maps and the draft declaration developed from the various meetings will be presented to the ministerial meeting which will be organized prior to the Summit. The ministerial meeting will finally verify the road maps and approve the submission of the Summit declaration to be endorsed during the Summit. The summit is expected to adopt a 10-year-old road map for adaptation to climate change in the eastern Himalayas sub-region.
While the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and species are also a concern, a proposal to secure all of the eastern Himalaya’s temperature and alpine forest and grasslands for ensuring biodiversity persistence and maintaining ecosystem services will be proposed at the summit.
A regional ‘adaptation expert groups’ which will advice governments on the implementation of the plan and on emerging concerns and risks will also be proposed at the ­summit.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

as marshy land becomes solid ground, predator animals walk across easily to kill cranes

Tendency of people to throw stones at any wild animal is also threatening the black necked cranes

The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and conservationists are now concerned about several cases where the famed black necked cranes were injured or killed by predators in Phobjikha valley.
In 2008, a total of nine cranes were found dead and in 2009-10 seven were found dead. Since 1987, RSPN has been working to protect and increase the population of the cranes as a result the number of cranes visiting Bhutan has increased.
One of the reasons for the several attacks on the cranes is due to the natural succession of marshy areas where the marshy areas become solid ground for predators to walk on. The cranes become an easy catch.
The only way for the cranes to know of a predator nearby was to have the marshy area with water pools so that the cranes could hear them coming.
“To keep away the predators we have to protect the marshy areas,” said an ecologist with RSPN, Rebecca Pradhan.
In 2010, one of the camera traps set up by RSPN captured a common leopard with a crane in its mouth. These photographic images confirmed the big cat as the elusive predator.
Another reason is the lack of awareness on the importance of the cranes. Rebecca Pradhan said that Bhutanese people tend to have the instinct of throwing stones at whatever wild animals they see.
Citing an example, she said that a black necked crane was left behind in Phobjikha due to injury. After the crane improved its health sometime during the summer it flew towards Punakha and landed there.
“After a while it flew to another place where it met its unfortunate fate. A few locals threw stones at the crane and they killed it,” said Rebeeca Pradhan.
Cranes that are left behind are also under the threat of predators and local people. These cranes are left behind mainly because they are either injured or too weak to make the long journey back to their summer breeding habitat.
The cranes are sometimes left injured due to the attacks by the predators and by local people. To respond to such situation, the RSPN is looking at treating the injured cranes at the site.
“In the past experiences we have found out that bringing cranes to Thimphu for treatment was not feasible because the stress level of the cranes increased,” said the conservation and development coordinator of RSPN, Rinchen Wangmo.
There have also been incidences where the cranes brought to Thimphu died due to increase in stress level and it was therefore important that the injured cranes were treated at the site.
RSPN in collaboration with the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre recently organized a one-day training on first aid treatment for injured cranes in Phobjikha.
The training focused on detecting injury or diseases of the cranes and handling methods during capture and medication. The trainees were also sensitized on different types of medicines for treatment, appropriate dosage of medicine for different kinds of injuries and proper way of cleaning wounds.
At the end of the training it was agreed that the concerned agency from the winter habitat of the cranes will keep in stock required medicines and closely collaborate with the livestock and health officials during treatment of the injured cranes.
The number of black naked cranes has increased from 285 in the winter of 1990-91 to 462 in 2009-10. As of today, the crane count for 2010-11 stands at 368.
The other winter habitats in Bhutan include Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse, Khotokha in Wangduephodrang and Choekhor and Thangbi in Bumthang.
The cranes usually spend over four months in major winter habitats in Bhutan and leave for their summer habitats in Tibet in mid-March.
The black-necked cranes arrive in Bhutan towards the last week of October during their breeding season, which also signals the end of harvesting season in Phobjikha valley and the time for the local farmers to move towards lower altitude where it is warmer.
The cranes fly back towards the end of March when the valley becomes warmer.