Twenty-seven Caribbean nations forge environmental protection agreement
New international action in soil conservation
Indira Gandhi to assist environmental education effort
Educational projects of the WWF/IUCN
Every year travel brochures lure more than 100 million tourists, primarily from developed countries, to the sandy, palm-shaded beaches of the Caribbean. They promise scuba-diving among coral reefs, luscious fruit, calypso music and free-trade zones for bargain hunters.
However, increasingly, serious pollution is making the promise of "fun in the sun" harder and harder to keep. Smoke-spewing oil refineries are displacing mangrove swamps which are a valuable buffer to the region's frequent hurricanes, and which provide a source of shelter and food for aquatic life. Open-pit mining is causing deforestation and erosion. New high-rise condominiums are discharging their untreated sewage into the shallow coastal waters where vacationers swim. If immediate action is not taken, the turquoise waters of this tropical playground will be as polluted as the Baltic and the Mediterranean.
In March 1983, delegates from 27 nations with a Caribbean coastline took the first long step toward environmental improvement. At a meeting in the atmospheric Spanish colonial port of Cartagena, Colombia, they concluded two agreements. Negotiated under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), both agreements pledged cooperative action on the environment. One deals specially with oil spills and the other concerns all types of pollution clean-up.
Oil tanker spills, together with seepage from the increasing number of offshore fields, have long been a threat to the Caribbean region. Every day at least five million barrels cross its waterways, An average of 25 supertankers, transporting crude oil from the Near East and Africa, unload at refineries on Aruba, Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Once refined, this oil is shipped to United States markets. Even Alaskan crude oil passes through the Caribbean's crowded sea arteries on its way to refineries along the United States Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
Earthscan reports that, in 1978, 76 million barrels of oil accidentally spilled into the Caribbean. One of the world's worst oil spills occurred in the Caribbean on 3 June 1979, when a well being drilled by PEMEX (the Mexican national petroleum company! blew. Before it was capped 290 days later, more than 475000 tonnes of oil had poured into the sea, destroying rich fishing grounds.
Oil is not the only threat to the Caribbean's ecosystems, and pollution problems are not limited to the coastlines and marine life. Inland, Caribbean nations are cutting down irreplaceable rain forests (two million hectares per year) to plant export crops. Following deforestation, mountainsides are often denuded, causing floods in the rainy season and drought in the summer. In Central America vast tracts of forest have been converted to pasture land for the United States beef market while natural grasslands in Venezuela and Colombia are left ungrazed. Slash-and-burn farmers reduce forest to stubble; damage has been particularly extensive in Haiti and Jamaica.
Attracted by special tax advantages and cheap labour, a growing number of North American industries have built factory complexes in the Caribbean basin. They bring needed income to the exploding population (200 million) but their "red sludge" is also killing off many species of flora, fauna and fish. Up to now few government officials have been willing to turn down short-term foreign exchange advantages for the long-term benefit of environmental protection.
The two agreements commit the signatories to stem pollution, to pool their scientific and technical knowledge so as to prevent natural calamities and ecological disasters and, lastly, to create nature reserves which will protect fragile ecosystems, particularly coral reefs and mangrove swamps already threatened with extinction.
A CARIBBEAN BAUXITE REFINERY raising the local standard of living
TREE-SHADED CARIBBEAN BEACH paradise lost?
Within recent months international cooperation in soil conservation has taken a major step forward with the founding of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation in Ankeny, Iowa, USA, the establishment of a new International Centre for Soil Conservation Information in Silsoe, Bedford, UK, and the publication of a new world soil map by FAO and Unesco.
The World Association of Soil and Water Conservation, whose members will include scientists, professional conservationists and policy-makers, will operate under the auspices of the Soil Conservation Society of America (SCSA), which will maintain membership records and publish a newsletter. The new Association, besides publishing a newsletter, will sponsor a biennial conference, assess water and conservation needs in many different nations, work for the adoption of sound soil and water conservation policies, encourage research and demonstration projects and cooperate with other international conservation organizations and agencies.
The organization was formed in Honolulu, Hawaii, in January 1983 during the international conference on soil erosion and conservation. Annual subscription is US$10. For more information, write to: World Association of Soil and Water Conservation, c/o SCSA, 7515 NE, Ankeny Road, Ankeny, Iowa 50021, USA.
The International Centre for Soil Conservation Information (ICSCI) is an independent, non-profit educational organization based at the National Centre of Agricultural Engineering at Silsoe, Bedford, United Kingdom.
The activities of ICSCI will be to collect information on soil conservation using bibliographic sources and a world network of correspondents. Information will be disseminated through a bulletin, bibliographies and other publications. There will also be an answering service for technical inquiries. Anyone interested should write to: ICSCI, NCAE, Silsoe, Bedford MK45 4DT, UK.
After more than ten years' work, The soil map of the world, to a scale of 1:5000000, sponsored by FAO and Unesco, has now been completed.
It is published in the form of ten explanatory volumes, each of which deals with one of the major regions of the world and is accompanied by the corresponding maps. The complete set is available in English, but Volumes 1 (General legend), 2 (North America), 5 (Europe), 6 (Africa) and 7 (South Asia) are also available in French.
Now that the map has been completed, Unesco has decided to offer the entire publication at the reduced price of F 1100 (or the equivalent in dollars). Those interested in this offer should place their orders with: Unesco Pub., 7 place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France.
GROWING CACTUS IN THE TUNISIAN DESERT an anti-erosion measure
A massive commitment to the development of the Third World will provide both the best means of renewing the economic dynamism of the industrialized countries and creation of the new international economic order which is so essential to the peace and well-being of both rich and poor. I would also suggest that this would provide both the time and the means for the present industrialized societies to make the transition to the "new growth' era which I believe is the key of their future viability.
But this is not the direction we are heading in today. The response of most nations and of special interest groups within nations to the current pressures and stresses is to revert to a narrow and sometimes aggressive defence of their own narrow and immediate self-interest. There has been a widespread reversion to intensely competitive behaviour and a retreat from cooperation which is producing mounting tensions and potential for conflict both amongst nations and within them.
I am convinced that the key lies in our ability to make a major cultural shift to a system of attitudes, values and behaviour which will enable us to realize the potential and avoid the dangers of the new era which the Stockholm Conference signalled, in which we must all think and act as citizens of Only One Earth.
December 1982, Stockholm
At the Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
Mrs Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, has been named the new Honorary Chairman of the IUCN Commission on Education. Established in 1949, one year after IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) was founded, the Commission is an international, voluntary group dedicated to enhancing the quality of life through educational programmes that promote conservation and sustainable development throughout the world. It tries to improve public understanding of environmental protection and careful use of natural resources.
Activities of the Commission are directed toward policy makers and planners, educators, young people and the public in general. A primary aim is to stimulate more active participation in environmental activities. The Commission currently has 293 members from 89 different countries. For more information, contact: Director, Public Affairs, IUCN, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland.
AT A NEPALESE VILLAGE SCHOOL a need to instil environmental awareness
The International Education Project of the World Wildlife Fund/IUCN, created in 1975 to promote practical conservation education programmes in the developing world, is now active in more than 50 countries, Geared to young people, the Project consists of educational materials such as posters, books, wall charts and mobile teaching units. It has also helped set up information centres and is developing a training programme which stresses self-help.
Audio-visual programmes are a mainstay of the Project. It has designed and constructed special slide-tape equipment and issued a wide range of filmstrips, slide programmes and multimedia packages. Income from the sale of these programmes is used to support the Project. The equipment and programme are called "Pandamatic" after the well-known Panda symbol.
Among the audio-visual programmes available are:
· Why conserve wildlife? (AVP 002) This is an expose of man's use and abuse of his environment. It discusses overpopulation, pollution, over-exploitation and reasons for wildlife conservation. It presents ethical, economic, scientific and aesthetic arguments for safeguarding wildlife. Third edition, 80 frames, 16 min. (English/French).
· The seas must live (AVP 015) Despite man's dependence on the seas he continues to create problems by excessive whaling, over-fishing, badly planned coastal development and coral reef destruction. 80 frames, 20 min. (English/French).
· Vanishing forest (AVP 059) This investigation of the causes and results of forest destruction concentrates on examples from India. 91 frames, 14 min. (English).
· Wildlife of Indonesia (AVP 030) This introduction to the animals and plants of Indonesia describes such endangered species as the tiger, the tapir, the pangolin, the komodo dragon, the tarsier, the siamang and the flying femur. Wildlife experts Drs John and Kathy MacKinnon analyse threats to the forest habitat and present possible solutions. 80 frames (English).
A catalogue of all available audiovisual programmes can be obtained from: WWF/IUCN Education Project, Greenfield House, Guiting Power, Glos. GL54 5TZ, UK.
Logging and log transport in tropical high forest
An FAO publication
A manual on production and costs
A comprehensive guidebook that quantifies the physical and economic aspect of log production
FAO FORESTRY DEVELOPMENT PAPER No. 18
Tipo-lito-fotocomposizione Sagraf - Napoli