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Showing posts from January 30, 2017

Experts advise community-led forest conservation in Himalayas (downtoearth,)

Conservation of forests in the Himalayas featured prominently during the 2nd international dialogue on Himalayan ecology. India depends on the Himalayas for natural resources, and forests which are rich in biodiversity are an important resource for mountain states of the country.

Jai Raj, principal chief conservator of forests, Uttarakhand, who was one of the speakers at the conference, said, “We are saving our forests very much.” As part of forest conservation and protection, Himalayan states are demanding green bonus for maintaining their forest cover. Experts gathered at the event talked about the gross environmental product and how it can be used to evaluate forests. According to Raj who quoted an estimate from 1990s, Himalayan forest is worth Rs 943 billion per year. The ecosystem service from India's forests stands at Rs 6.96 lakh crore annually.

Tiger reserves demarcated inside forests also provide several ecosystem services. The Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand provid…

Pay farmers for providing ecosystem services; make agriculture attractive: experts (downtoearth,)

Payment to farmers for providing ecosystem services can ensure guaranteed farm income, make agriculture an attractive option for those who are deserting it and pave the way to sustainable agriculture. In an interview to Down To Earth, Rob Vos, strategic programme leader in FAO’s economic and social affairs division, had earlier said that to engage more youths, agriculture has to be made more “attractive and remunerative”.

Presenting his case during the 2nd International Dialogue on Himalayan Ecology, Lalit Kumar of Delhi University said that so far, the focus has always been on two things while debating on increasing farmers' income: raise MSP and reduce the cost of production. There has been a lot of debate about any other alternative ways in which the farmers' income can also be doubled.

At a time of agrarian crisis when farmers are committing suicide, farming is considered no more lucrative and sustainable. According to Kumar, there has been a decline in per capita land av…

Missing the woods for wood (downtoearth)

There is a struggle for control over forests in India. On one side are forest communities and environmentalists, while on the other are government-owned forest development corporations (FDCs) and private players, who are trying to acquire forestland for industrial plantations.

The contest over forests has led to cases of conflict in several states—the most recent one being in December last year in Maharashtra. When the state government decided to allow the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd to raise teak plantation in 200 sq km of wildlife-rich Bhandara forests, conservationists and local communities were up in protest, making the government rethink the move.

Another incident was witnessed in the same state in June 2016 when protesters interrupted felling of trees in Gadchiroli district. A protester also filed a case in the Nagpur bench of the state high court. Why does the FDC need such diverse forests for its plantations when thousands of hectares of degraded forests…

Keeping safety on the rails (Hindu)

The preliminary finding of the Commission of Railway Safety that the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur in November 2016 that killed over 140 people was primarily caused by carriage and wagon defects should serve as a reality check for the Railway Ministry. While sabotage is indeed a factor in some derailments, bad railway performance is responsible for the majority. The CRS report merits serious consideration: it has specifically identified a variation in the wheel gauges of two coaches, and found carriages being run beyond their useful life. This is not a rare instance where inquiries have found the Railways seriously deficient. In fact, the annual report of the CRS Lucknow for 2012-13 cites failure of railway equipment, derelict staff, rail fractures and, on some occasions, non-railway factors to be responsible for fatal accidents. The collision of the Hubli-Bengaluru City Hampi Express with a goods train that left 25 people dead, for instance, was caused b…

Simply the best (Hindu)

In times to come, 2017 will be remembered by tennis fans as the year the Australian Open went retro. For, it featured the big-stage revival of two of the sport’s most storied rivalries. Roger Federer was pushed to the limit by Rafael Nadal’s relentless, shape-shifting style before the Swiss maestro’s sublime artistry prevailed in a classic — his third win in nine Major finals over the Spaniard, his 18th Grand Slam crown and his first since Wimbledon in 2012. And Serena Williams, playing sister Venus in a Major final after nearly eight years, continued her dominance, capturing a professional-era record 23rd title. The warm nostalgia these great champions evoked was accompanied by the thrill of the unexpected. Of the four, only Serena’s presence in the final was unsurprising. The resurgence of the old guard — the first time in the Open Era that all four finalists were over the age of 30 — might have had something to do with the faster courts in Melbourne this year. Federer, among other…

Choked by the Global Gag Rule (Hindu.)

The Trump administration has set back women’s health programmes worldwide

On his first day in office, U.S. President Donald Trump reinstated what is known as the Global Gag Rule, or the Mexico City Policy. This rule, which was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the time of the International Population Conference in Mexico City, has been revoked by successive Democratic Presidents and reinstated by successive Republican Presidents, so Mr. Tump’s action was not unexpected.

Very briefly, the Global Gag Rule states that U.S. government funding cannot be given to international NGOs, either directly or through U.S. non-governmental partners of these NGOs, unless these foreign NGOs sign an undertaking to not provide abortion services or even information or advocacy on abortion to their clients even in countries in which abortion is legal and even with money that does not come from the United States Agency for International Development’s budget. Whenever this ruling has b…