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UN environment agency calls for urgent action to support Mongolia’s reindeer herders

Urgent action is needed to support Mongolia’s reindeer herders and protect them from unregulated mining, logging, water pollution and climate change, among other threats, according to a report by the UN environment agency, released today.

The report by the UN Environment Programme (PNUMA), “Changing Taiga: Challenges for Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders,” assesses the current living situation of Mongolia’s reindeer herder community, the Dukha, of which only some 200 members remain, and explores ways to guarantee their livelihoods, as well as of preserving the ecosystem in which they live in.

“The taiga – the Dukha homeland – is a hotspot for biodiversity and is rich in natural resources, but it is also one of the regions of Mongolia which could suffer the greatest impacts of climate change over the coming decades,"Dijo el Director Ejecutivo del PNUMA, Achim Steiner,.

Many herders, the report found, have abandoned pastures because of damage caused by unregulated, small-scale artisanal mining of gold and jade, which leads to deforestation, forest fires, chemical contamination and poisoning of water sources.

Sr.. Steiner stressed that the challenges faced by the herders reflect challenges faced by communities across the world which are seeking to transition to a sustainable future that generates jobs and livelihoods while still protecting the environment.

In the case of Mongolia, its transition to a market economy in the 1990s resulted in eight million livestock being added to its pastures, significantly affecting traditional herding practices. Además, certain measures to conserve biodiversity in the region, such as the creation of national parks and stricter hunting laws, have limited access to pastures and affected herding communities negatively since their subsistence depends on trapping wild animals.

Droughts and extreme winters in the past decade have also posed a threat to herders as they have led to widespread livestock deaths.

“As a culture tightly-coupled with the taiga environment, Dukha reindeer husbandry has played a significant role in shaping the environment and conserving the unique biodiversity surrounding them,” said the report’s Chief Editor, Kathrine I. Johnsen. “It is important that any protected area regulations or community partnerships take full account of the Dukha’s needs and rights to access to their traditional pasture grounds and migration routes.”

Other activities such as tourism have been both beneficial and detrimental for the Dukha community, indica el informe, as it provides herders with incomes and alternative ways to participate in the market economy. Sin embargo, herders have altered reindeer migration routes to accommodate tourists, forcing animals to graze on pastures of poorer quality and limiting their ability to increase the herd size.

The report includes recommendations such as closely monitoring reindeer numbers and changes in migration routes, forming community partnerships to support biodiversity and traditional Dukha livelihoods, re-evaluating current hunting regulations, and providing assistance to develop local herders’ institutions, entre otros.

El artículo fuente de: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41633&Cr=Biodiversity&Cr1=

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UN food agency calls for measures to preserve natural teak forests

The United Nations food agency today called for implementing measures to preserve natural teak forests, which are currently in decline, and improve management practices of planted teak forests, to sustain the supply and quality of the wood extracted from this natural resource.

Natural teak forests teak forests grow in only four countries: India, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. According to an assessment carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (De la FAO), except for Thailand, the countries have registered a significant decline in teak forest hectares, as well as deterioration in the quality of teak wood – one of the most valuable hardwoods in the world.

Between 1992 y 2010, Laos lost 68,500 hectares of teak forests, India 2.1 millones de hectáreas, and Myanmar 1.1 millones de hectáreas. Thailand’s complete ban on logging in natural forests introduced in 1989, the report suggests, may have contributed to the recovery of natural teak forests, which increased by 2.9 million hectares during the same time period.

An FAO Forestry Officer, Walter Kollert, stressed that production of teak logs from natural forests will be further limited due to continuing deforestation and competition for environmental services, making it vital to put measures in place to preserve them.

“Supply trend points to a continuing decline in the volume and quality of natural teak, which results in progressive loss of genetic resources,"El señor. Kollet said. “This is why it is essential in the near future to plan, organize and implement a programme for the genetic conservation of native teak resources in the four countries with natural teak forests.”

The assessment, which was conducted in 60 tropical countries, found an opposite trend in planted teak forests. Its findings suggest that these are increasing globally, with African, Asian and Latin American private sectors heavily investing in teak to obtain hardwood.

“Although the time until trees reach harvestable dimensions is comparatively long and on average takes between 20 y 80 años, teak planting serves local communities as a savings account and in the long run helps smallholders improve their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their children,"El señor. Kollert said.

En la actualidad, Asia holds more than 90 per cent of teak resources worldwide, with India managing 39 per cent of the world’s planted teak forests. Eleven out of 14 reporting countries named India as their number one importer, absorbing 70 a 100 per cent of global teak exports. The report added that Myanmar, India and Indonesia, are also expected to maintain their position in the market as sources of premium quality teak, but the supply may be limited in the future.

El artículo fuente de: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41634&Cr=Forests&Cr1=

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UN Drylands Ambassador calls for greater efforts to fight desertification

With land degradation and desertification affecting 1.5 billion people across the globe, 75 per cent of them among the world’s poorest, the United Nations’ most recently-appointed Drylands Ambassador today called for greater efforts to combat the problem.

“I want us all to agree that we will become a society that is free of land degradation,” said Leila Lopes, also the holder of the Miss Universe 2011 title, at a press conference at UN Headquarters. “I want us to agree on a goal that will help us to reduce land degradation, rehabilitate more land than is being degraded. I truly believe that we can come together and create awareness about this important environmental issue.”

Drylands, or ecosystems characterised by a lack of water, cover some 40 per cent of the world’s terrain, ranging from cultivated lands and grasslands to savannas and deserts. They are home to 38 per cent of the world’s population or 2.7 millones de personas, and account for half of global livestock production.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) appointed Ms. Lopes as one of its Drylands Ambassadors, charged with helping raise international awareness about desertification, land degradation and drought, causes and possible solutions. Miss Lopes comes from the African region where desertification is the foremost environmental challenge – part of her home country of Angola is threatened by desertification.

In her remarks to the press, Sra.. Lopes stressed that “drylands are not wastelands,” noting that they can be restored, and pledged to work hard to create awareness on the threat of land degradation. She added that she will travel to Brazil in June to participate in activities leading up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, también conocida como Río 20.

Speaking at the press conference, the UNCCD Executive Secretary, Luc Gnacadja, pointed out that 75 billion tonnes of fertile soil is lost every year as a result of land degradation. He added that land degradation and drought in drylands causes the loss of about 12 million hectares of productive land every year on which 20 billion tonnes of grains could grow.

“This is equal to 23 hectares of land transformed into man-made desert every minute,"El señor. Gnacadja said. “Sustainable land use for all and by all is an imperative. It should be the cornerstone for the green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication, and I hope that the Rio 20 Conference in Brazil will live up to this imperative.”

He highlighted two mechanisms which he said can help halt the shrinkage of fertile land. The first of these entails the management of non-degraded fertile lands in ways that do not cause degradation, thus halting further loss; while the second method calls for the restoration of already degraded lands.

El artículo fuente de: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41635&Cr=environment&Cr1=

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