Carbon trading: Saving forests and communities
Carbon trading deals involving tree growing in developing countries will provide greater benefits than just improving the environment. It could sharply reduce poverty among the rural poor and provide businesses with an inexpensive way to offset their carbon emissions.
A report entitled Forest carbon and Local Livelihoods: Assessment and Policy Recommendations argues that the use of forests to reduce carbon emissions is financially viable, and brings considerable benefits to people in rural communities.
The research counters the view that most carbon-trading deals between industry and tree growers in developing countries will have negative environmental and social consequences.
Carbon trading allows industries in developed countries to off-set their emissions of carbon dioxide by investing in reforestation and clean energy projects in developing countries.
The report, prepared by the Centre for International Forestry Research (Cifor) and Forests Trends, are seeking major changes to the carbon trading rules under the Kyoto Protocol.
Both authorities say that community-friendly forest carbon projects are unlikely to take root without proactive changes in the Kyoto Protocols Clean Development Mechanism rules, and in the approaches that developing countries and project designers are taking.
The report seeks action in four main areas.
Make all types of forestry and agroforestry projects with significant benefits for local communities eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism (as long as they also meet rigorous requirements for carbon benefits). For example, draft rules omit forest rehabilitation as an approved activity despite its enormous social benefits and significant carbon-sequestration potential.
Reduce risks for local communities. The rules should require assessments of the social impact of projects to ascertain how local people have benefited or been harmed. National governments will need to protect and formalise land tenure rights of communities, or carbon deals will be riddled with conflict, increasing their financial risk for investors.
Reduce the cost of managing community projects. Private businesses and NGOs can act as intermediaries to combine the carbon offsets produced by multiple farmers or communities and sell them jointly to buyers. For example, in Mexico, a local environmental organisation helped to organise 400 small-scale farmers in 20 communities to sequester carbon by planting trees around their crop fields. With the NGO acting as the intermediary, the farmers sold carbon credits equal to 17,000 tonnes of carbon to the International Federation of Automobiles for between US$10 ($14.5) and $12 per tonne of carbon. The CDM rules should make community-based forestry projects eligible for the low-cost “fast-track” approval process.
Reduce risks and costs for investors. The report notes that there are new players in the carbon-trading field who can simplify deal making and reduce the costs of organising and marketing community tree-growing projects. For example, industry buyers are now able to purchase carbon offsets from investors who have portfolios of projects, which spreads risk. The independent, non-profit Face Foundation has developed a portfolio of five projects in five countries, affecting 135,000 hectares that sequester 21 million tonnes of carbon.
The report estimates that many community-based projects could sell carbon credits for $US 15 to $US 25 per tonne of sequestered carbon. This could mean a potential private financial flow of $US300 million per year to some of the world’s poorest people — more than the current annual flows of official overseas aid for forestry development in poor countries.
The writer is based in Manila covering environment and community development issues.
The Brunei Times
Fun, teaching go hand in hand in lessons about environment
Michael A. Bengwayan
BRUNEI is blessed with its untouched forests, clear pristine rivers, open valleys and bountiful biodiversity. It is a beauty to behold and a paradise for environmental teachers.
It is also a learning laboratory for pupils who can have fun and appreciate nature and its importance to humans and the world.
As an environmentalist in the Philippines for many years, I have planned and carried out several educational environmental trips with elemenatry, secondary pupils and college students.
It is important that in planning an environmental educational activity, it should be fun. Students should be able to learn. And finally, students should be able to correlate their learning to life’s realities.
Here are some pointers for teachers in planning and implementing a fruitful environmental trip.
Set a goal or objective
There must be an educational objective. It must be SMART: meaning it is Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
An example can be: To increase environmental awareness of Grade 5 and 6 pupils by introducing them to the beauty of Brunei by visiting the Ulu Temburong National Park on October 15.
Get the permission of your school head before you plan the activity.
Note down the pupils’ expectations
The children’s expectations are important. Make a list of what they expect to see, know, learn. Know their wishes. Based on these information needs, you can logically and sequentially plan the activities.
Later on after the educational trip, check whether these expectations have been met or the pupils questions answered.
Orient your staff
Since you will work with some staff or co-teachers who will assist you, make sure they know the objectives of the activity. They should also have a common understanding of the activities goal and objectives. They should at least be knowledgeable in environmental issues, and trained in first aid and disaster management.
Allow them to make the trip fun and enjoyable for the pupils. Identify their roles and tasks individually. If a docor or nurse can volunteer to participate, include her or him.
Make your budget
Identify and list the things that will be needed and how much these will cost. These should include transportation, meals/food, first aid kits and medicine, water, flashlights, rope for rapelling, matchboxes, pocket knives and jungle bolos, insect repellants, pupils notebooks and pens, camera, cell phones, compass.
Identify Your itinerary and how long you will be in said place
If the children are visiting several sites, be sure they will not stay too long in one place or else they will not have enough time for other places. Spread out your time in each place equally or dependent on the significance of the place or the things they want to see or learn.
Orient the pupils a day before the trip
Before the trip, the pupils should be informed beforehand where they will go, when, what they will see, learn, observe and write and do, how should they ensure safety and why are they going to these places.
Make your letters to each individual parents and make sure you have their permission allowing their children to join the activity.
Group students in pairs to be buddies and explain that for the whole duration of the trip each buddy is responsible for his or her partner.
Tell the pupils what to bring and what not to bring, what to wear, what to do and what not to do. If there are rules and regulations in the nature parks that they will go to, get those rules and read it to the students and let them understand it.
Inform proper authorities where you are going, when you will go and when you and the children are expected to be back. Check the weather bulletin and make sure the day is clear and no untoward weather disturbance will happen.
When you’re ready, go and have fun. But remember to remind your pupils that in a forest, they should:
Take nothing but pictures
Leave nothing but footprints
Kill nothing but time
The writer has worked on environmental issues for many years in the Philippines, educating and training children and students on ecological concerns. Read about his environmental education group at www.geocities.com/pinetreemacik/macik
The Brunei Times
Scavenging for gold that does not glitter
But in this country’s dumpsite area, hunger can be filled. Not from restaurants but from trash that glitters like gold.
Every cock’s crow, come rain or shine, Nana Sepang and her three kids crawl out from what they call home-a four square metre shanty made of torn sacks and rusty metal sheets.
With half sleepy heads, they trudge a stone’s throw away towards the Payatas garbage dump. There, along with several thousand other scavengers, they search for gold that don’t glitter — paper, carton, plastic, styrofoam, bottles, scrap iron bits and food. Sepang and her kind, whom social workers claim to be about 150,000 in this capital city, personify what wordsmiths call “dirt-poor scavengers”. But to environmentalists, they are unsung eco-heroes who clean, recycle and eat out from the filth of the city’s 10 million people.
Even as the world recognised World Environment Day last August 15, there was and is no celebration by these scavengers. Every day is like any other day. “We pick garbage, sort it, pack it and sell it for a living”, Sepang retorted, poking on the newly-dumped trash by an eight-wheeler truck with hook-ended metal rod. “Garbage is gold to the people here,” Elma Macasantos of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said referring to the Payatas dumpsite. In May 11, 2000, some 97 people died and 157 others were lost when a flashflood and fire wrecked havoc on the makeshift tents and shanties. After the tragedy, the scavengers have since returned. “About 65,000 people live here and depend on trash for a living,” Macasantos added.
In the dumps, the sociology of trash is simple. The rich make it, the poor deal with it.
Even as they build their lives and homes out from other people’s filth, Manila’s scavengers are not viewed as eco-heroes by the societies they live in.
The Roman Catholic Church, the rich and the middle class of Manila have referred to them as “dirty, ignorant and too eager to let their bodies be blasted by water canons because they never take a bath”. They are, for the most part, regarded as little better than the trash they handle.
But Alvin Sotero of the Earth Savers, an environmental NGO disagrees. “The efforts of Manila’s scavengers in recycling trash and cleaning the city’s increasing garbage is priceless. Who among the us can do what they do, what will Manila become without them,” he asked. The scavengers earn about US$4 ($5.62) daily in the 12 hectare dumpsite.
For years, the dumpsite and the Smoky Mountain which was closed in 1995, have become poignant symbols of the country’s poverty.
Sotero said the thousands of people who make their living at the giant dump, sleeping and eating in amid the stench and swarms of flies came from the impoverished provinces of the country.
“It is a pitiful sight to see women and children probing other people’s trash for a living. Without them, Manila would rot in its own filth. Unknowingly, they are the city’s environmental heroes,” he added.
Matthew Westfall, an urban development specialist with the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, says the people in the dumps are part of the changing face of poverty-a vast population shift taking place in much of the world, from the joblessness and hunger of the countryside to the comparative wealth of the cities.
But for most of these migrants, that comparative wealth is found in places like this dumpsite. In Asia, where cities of 10 million people or more are spreading as fast as anywhere in the world, this urban landscape is replacing the fields and trees of the villages for an increasing proportion of the population.
“In 1990, the region’s cities needed a total of US$38 billion a year to provide urban services like water, sanitation and transport. In 20 years that figure is expected to rise to an impossible US$292 billion,” he said. Scavenging is hazardous employment. It is poverty driven, undertaken by the most vulnerable people — often women and children.
In the process of sorting through trash, scavengers expose themselves to serious health hazards such as injuries from broken glass and cans and are disproportionately exposed to disease-carrying pests that breed in garbage. Indeed, health is a luxury scavengers cannot afford.
Government urban planners would do well to develop intricate strategies to reduce the vulnerability of scavengers to natural or man-made risks.
But with a government hounded by post administration corruption, that is a far-fetched reality.
The Brunei Times
Bio-wealth of Dusuns in decline
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
This is a partial finding of three important scientists who did a study of The Ecology and Ethnobiology of Human-Rainforest Interaction in Brunei (a Dusun Case Study) namely Assistant Professor Jay H Bernstein of the City University of New York; Professor Roy Ellen of the Department of Anthropology, Human Ecology and Ethnobotany, University of Kent; and Bantong Antaran, Director of the Brunei Museums.
Among the findings of the three were that, the Dusuns, one of a number of ethnic groups in the country, have been using many botanical plants that are used as medicine, food and material for subsistence.
For one, the scientists said several plants under the Aquilaria (or Garu) and Piperaceae (or Akau daiang) families which the Dusuns sell to the Chinese, are used as medicine to treat many diseases.
These are Peperomia obtussifolia, P scandens, P nivences, P pellucida, Piper solmsianum, Piper negrum, and Piper methysticum, used to cure malaria, leukemia, weight loss, vaginitis, trachoma, headache, snake venom, fever and stomach ache.
The findings include listing of plants used as food (mainly edible fruit) and stimulants and as many as 105 plants used for flavouring. Fruit trees not cut down for timber by the Dusuns have other purposes. Some 66 other plants provide edible leaves, roots, stems and shoots.
The Dusuns collect fruits and some forest products (food, and even decorative plants) which are sold at weekly markets in various parts of Brunei or at roadside stalls. The most common are palm and bamboo shoots, Gnetum leaves, various mushrooms and rattan used in the manufacture of carrying baskets and fish traps.
The three researchers discovered that Dusuns use some 62 other medicinal plants for treating ailments ranging from ringworm to leprosy, high blood pressure to poison antidotes like Kapanas (Goniothalamus veluntinus).
The said researchers detailed notes on the conditions for which the plants are used and on mode of preparation. Some of the medicinal plants are hitherto unknown to science, such as garoncong.
In addition, the study — which conducted the project at Tasek Merimbun in the Tutong District, the Brunei Museum being the official sponsor and institutional collaborator — also discovered eight plants like jimpalang (Vitex vestita), believed to increase rice crops and hence planted alongside fields. It is also a source of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Also discovered were six plants used as poisons like binakalud (Brucea sumatrana), seven plants used for pest control, two for fire-making, four with decorative uses, three for seed saving, 16 for firewood, three for dyes, three for fish bait, and one for curing tobacco.
It is interesting to note however that the astringent seeds of Brucea sumatrana are used to treat dysentery according to the Southeast Asia Medical Handbook.
Other findings of the study discovered that 47 trees were indicated as providing wood for construction. Trees were graded by hardness as kodo (hard), sodong kodo (medium hard), and iami (soft). Both hard and soft woods are useful; while medium hard woods are the least useful. Another characteristic used in evaluating wood is liot (flexibility). Many uses of woods were described, many of them highly specific, such as the use of Brackenridgea for axe handles, and Cyrtostachys renda for flooring. Some 67 plants were recorded as having some manufacturing use.
The study intend to document the significance of rainforest resources and the ecological opportunities presented by rainforest in the social lives of the Dusun people of Brunei. It also analysed patterns of human-rainforest interaction, in particular the construction and management of environmental knowledge in changing circumstances.
The main sociological outcome of the research determined how ethnobotanical and ethnoecological knowledge alters as a result of rapid socio-cultural change, especially in situations where forest and existing biodiversity have been maintained.
Although knowledge of the forest environment to have been always asymmetrically distributed within a population, the disjunction at the present time between what is known by a few older men and the mass of younger people is sharply accentuated today, the study said.
The reason is that there is a general reduction in the use of the Dusun language (and its replacement by Brunei Malay) and of traditional ritual practices, to such an extent that combined with exogenous market and political forces, including dependence on a public sector economy, influence of the national ideology of Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay Islamic Monarchy) and general absorption into Malay culture, the future existence of a clearly demarcated Dusun identity is in doubt.
It is evident that the symbolic and general cultural associations of the forest are changing amongst both Dusun and Brunei Malay as the forest declines in economic importance and all Bruneians are absorbed into a peri-urban way of life, the study concluded.
The writer is based in Manila covering environment and community development issues.
The Brunei Times
Climate change threatens wetlands
The warning comes from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Global warming is causing polar ice to melt and sea levels to rise. This in turn is leading to shallow wetlands being swamped and some species of mangrove trees being submerged and drowned. Some scientists forecast that climate change will lead to the disappearance of entire island nations.
Yet at the same time, other wetlands — estuaries, floodplains, and marshes — are being destroyed through drought. There is still much to be learned about the impact of climate change on weather patterns.
The estimated global area covered with wetlands is 12.8 square million kilometres. Today, half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed over the last 100 years.
In the Philippines, a staggering 80 per cent of coastal wetlands have been drained, degraded, or destroyed in just 30 years.
Military action, too, can be a significant factor in wetland decline. Exercises frequently cause immense damage, while wars create the kind of havoc to people and the environment that is being witnessed in the marshes of southern Iraq.
Conversion of swamps, marshes, lakes and floodplains for commercial development, drainage schemes, extraction of minerals and peat, over fishing, tourism, siltation, pesticide discharges from intensive agriculture, toxic pollutants from industrial waste, and the construction of dams and dikes, often in an attempt at flood protection, are major threats to wetlands everywhere.
According to UNEP, alterations in the climatic pattern will have far reaching, deleterious consequences on the health of wetlands and their dependent life forms.
Climatic changes may bring about changes in hydrological regimes, in the pattern of evaporation, biogeochemical cycles, the cycling of nutrients and suspended particles.
Without wetlands, the coastal, inland and high altitude areas will all have to bear the consequences equally. As for lakes and streams, a climate change would result in the reduction of the polar ice cover, decreased availability of dissolved oxygen in deep water, and an increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as floods in some areas and drought in others.
Amphibians and reptiles that depend on wetlands are the first to be endangered as temperature increases as these animals who are sensitive to heat would find it difficult to adjust to prolonged spells of heat.
Some of them have already disappeared which has disturbed the food chain and is affecting those placed higher in the food chain.
Likewise, as parasites are unable to procreate in cold environmental conditions, fewer frost days could increase the incidence of diseases and epidemics to an unprecedented level.
The animals in the polar caps also suffer. Because higher global temperatures would undoubtedly decrease the ice cover and ice thickness in the polar regions, and non-polar glacial retreat would be favoured.
Consequently, wildlife in the polar regions such as polar bears, arctic foxes, among others, will be affected.
Fishes are also on the list to hard hit by global warming. Even though some fish species respond to higher temperatures by showing rapid growth, nonetheless, rapid growth demands more food, places to live and the chance of diseases escalates.
Wetland-dependent species that do not have excellent mobility will face extinction if environmental conditions change beyond their tolerable limits. Even those with greater mobility will also be affecter; for example, cold water fishes would be restricted in their range while warm water fishes would expand their range.
Low-lying countries are in fact starting to feel the effects of global warming now. Many are experiencing rise in sea level and that mangroves are dying in low lying wetlands.
Flood plains and swamps in the low-lying regions are being displaced by saline habitat due to cumulative effects of the salt water intrusion, intense rainfall, and storm surges. Plant communities that cannot tolerate high salinity and inundation become replaced with mangroves and other salt-tolerant plants. This is being felt in Asia today.
At the Candaba swamps of the Philippines birdlife and migration are being adversely affected. Changes are occurring in the staging, wintering and breeding sited for bird species that migrate continent to continent, and even those migrating within country.The Brunei Times
Changing world is putting pressure on families
Look around. Many families may have only one parent, some have no parents and live in child-headed households.
Some families are looking after orphans. All because of armed conflicts, diseases like HIV/Aids, internal displacement, global warming and exclusion.
Many values and customs that were accepted until recently have undergone great changes in the last few decades. Behaviour that was completely unaccepted by the older parents when they were young, are now accepted. What is now shown on television, Internet and films was absolutely forbidden 20 or 30 years ago.
In the Philippines for instance, great respect was usually bestowed on older people in families and societies, but this is a rare thing today. In crowded, hot and jam-packed buses in Manila, one can see young folks sitting while aged and older people are left to stand and cling for dear life as the bus swerves in and around the traffic snarl.
Seeking personal pleasure without concern for the effects on other people is perhaps one of the social influences that has most changed our society. This has made it possible for things like drug use, pornography, divorce, child exploitation, wife battering, human trafficking and exploitation of minorities to increase. Although it is hard to measure, the selfishness of personal desire, has caused much harm including sexually transmitted diseases and unexpected pregnancies, especially among the youth.
Well-established religions are now able to share their beliefs around the world more effectively through the Internet and modern technology. But in addition, a number of new sects are developing, sometimes with beliefs that question or threaten family values. One weird Apollo Quiboloy in Davao, Philippines, proclaimed himself as the son of God, raising frowns and laughter among many Christians.
Sexual values have changed and purity before marriage has lost the value it once had in some cultures. Extra marital affairs are becoming common as well as early sex among youngsters.
In the rush to be modern and “up to date”, many values have been abandoned including those that were traditionally respected such as tribute to parents, elders, mentors and teachers. It is only perhaps in some Asian cultural niches that these can be found as in China, Japan, Thailand and in small rural areas.
One thing that has not changed for many thousands of years is sin. The change that can probably be noted is that it has gone from bad to worse to worst and, for lack of words, it will be critically bad as years go on.
The forms of evil and sinful doings are considered more and more diabolical than two or three centuries ago. For instance, the abuse of alcohol, sex, and drugs have led to crimes not only against person but against humanity. It has broken families and has rent communities apart. Violence in homes has not only resulted in physical but also emotional and psychological damages.
In the face of all these pressures against families, it is important for people to accept the reality of families and the challenges they face. Most ignore these and think that the problems will go away when they ignore them. But facing the pressures of families is the only way that the problems will go away.
To do this, families should admit when there is a problem. If people do not accept that there is a problem, then there is no solution. Families can also be encouraged to ask for help. There are many institutions that provide counseling and guidance for families. People often don’t get the help they need because they don’t ask for it.
It is also important for family members to talk to other families regarding their problems and learn from the experiences of others. Many families usually have the same problem as most families.
More importantly, try talking to other people and their families and provide help. Sometimes, in this material world we seldom say we want to help but we do not have the time or take the initiative to help others.
As people experience globalisation and human relations become more formal because of melting of non-family members and foreigners in many nations, the only way to global survival is to be concerned and stem exclusion.
The writer is based in Manila covering environment and community development issues.
The Brunei Times
World’s poorest of the poor to hit one billion by 2020
The picture is no different in The Philippines where in the Visayan region, rural mothers scour the forests for something to eat as crops have failed. Their counterparts in Manila eat whatever food they get from the garbage, unmindful of their health.
These are images of the world’s poorest of the poor. They are trapped in long-term poverty where most likely, their children, if they survive, will live in worst or similar conditions. They are hardcore poor, extreme poor and ultra poor. They are the victims of chronic poverty because they are in it for a long, long time, an entire life or even across generations.
Who and where are they? The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) of London says there are some 500 million people in Sub-Sahara Africa, East Asia and Pacific, South Asia and the other parts of the world since 2000. It is projected to reach a billion people in five to ten years.
ODI says the chronically poor people are working people with only a minority unable to engage in labour markets. These people are those who are discriminated against such as the Dalits and Harijans or more known as “Untouchables” in India, socially marginalised people, members of ethnic, religious, indigenous, nomadic and caste groups, bonded labourers, refugees and internally displace people; disabled people and those with ill health and the young and the old. Often, poor women and girls are the most likely to experience life-long poverty, ODI said.
There are five main reasons seen behind chronic poverty, ODI bared. These are insecurity trap, limited citizenship, spatial disadvantage, social discrimination and poor work opportunities. Those who live unprotected within insecure environments often experience an extended duration in poverty. Conflict and violence are obvious sources of insecurity as are economic crisis and natural hazards. These are now evident in many countries in Africa.
People engaged in political spheres also are trapped in chronic poverty because they do not have meaningful political voice, and lack effective and legitimate political representation and power.
In many parts of the world, remoteness, certain types of natural resources endowments, political disadvantage and weak integration can all contribute to the creation of intra-country spatial poverty traps.
ODI explained the chronically poor often experience traps based on their positions within households and communities. Such social structures evolve with social orders such as class and caste systems, ethnicity or gender specific roles, responsibilities and rights. Chronically poor people often live in countries and regions where work opportunities are very limited; and even where there is broad-based growth, the employment generated is exploitative with unhealthy working conditions.
Based on country development trajectories, the 2008 Chronic Poverty Report (CPR) said the poorest of the poor are those who have low per capita income, have high child mortality, high fertility and undernourished populations.
By analysis, one can say that the number of these poor people worldwide can be lessened if they are provided social protection and assistance.
They should also be reached by public services such as vital reproductive health services, and post primary education which are keys in breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty and have dramatic effect on chronic poor households.
The development of anti-discrimination and gender empowerment policies are essential and strategic urbanisation and migration also contribute to lessening the world’s chronic poor, CPR recommended. – Michael A Bengwayan
The Brunei Times