MORE than 50 regional stakeholders, among them journalists, are currently gathered in St. Lucia for a two-day workshop on climate change and the Caribbean.
The workshop — the brainchild of communication NGO Panos Caribbean, in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean — is intended to, among other things, promote discourse and prompt action from civil society on climate change.
This, in the best interest of the Caribbean and ahead of this year’s meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, set for Paris, France in December.
The specific objectives of the workshop, which is being held at the Palm Haven Hotel, are to:
- introduce journalists and artists to the Caribbean’s preparation for the Paris meeting; and to the issues that are most critical for the region;
- enhance the capacity of journalists to cover climate change, including through increased networking among journalists covering the subject matter, with a greater understanding of the social justice issues involved;
- support Caribbean artistes with the capacity to advocate on climate justice and climate change issues; and
- build the accountability of negotiators and key government officials attending the Conference of Parties (COP) to report back to the region through increased public education and sustained climate reporting.
Among the offerings so far have been:
- a presentation by Minister of Sustainable Development, Energy Science and Technology Senator James Fletcher earlier today;
- a look at climate predictions by Dr. Spencer Thomas of Climate Analytics — another partner in the workshop; as well as
- a panel discussion on climate change and its impacts on livelihoods and communities.
Later this afternoon, journalists will be treated to exposure to coverage of the COP, which is held annually toward the end of each year. At the same time, participating artistes are to be involved in an advocacy brainstorming session.
Tomorrow, they will have group work on key messages to come from the event and work done on a pre-COP communication and action plan while additional next steps are worked out.
Meanwhile, together with Panos and FES, the event has been made possible with the support of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the High Level Mechanism Project on Climate Change for SIDS and LDCs, Climate Analytics, Charles and Associates, the Organisation of American States, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
ROSEAU, Dominica/KINGSTON, Jamaica: A team of scientists from Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded — for the first time — 968 Diablotin, also known as the Black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, a Lesser Antillean island.
The last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862. This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalisations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.
“Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for Black-capped Petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant. Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected, so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species,” said Adam Brown, Co-Founder and Lead Scientist at EPIC.
Biologists from EPIC and the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s environmental ministry teamed up in January 2015 to do a systematic survey of the entire island of Dominica to locate Diablotin and determine its status.
The Diablotin is a very difficult bird to study, as it is a seabird that comes to shore only for a few months of the year to breed, flying into forested mountains at night to underground burrows. A portable marine radar array and night vision scopes allowed biologists to locate, identify and count flying petrels in in the dark. This technique was developed and used successfully to study Diablotin on Hispaniola.
The next step is to confirm breeding by locating active nests. The team is confident that petrels observed on Dominica are breeding but the discovery of birds, eggs or chicks in burrows would make their presence a certainty.
Biologists will make expeditions into the mountains in early 2016 when breeding petrels are expected to return to Dominica. Dominica’s forests, many pristine due to strong protections, would appear to offer prime nesting habitat to petrels, but also make locating burrows a challenge.
The Diablotin is considered one of the world’s rarest seabirds with an estimate of only 1,000-2,000 pairs remaining, and until recently, known to nest only on the island of Hispaniola (comprising the nations of Haiti and Dominican Republic).
Biologists and others, who have formed an International Black-capped Petrel Conservation Group, held out hope that the species persisted on Dominica, buoyed by occasional findings of adult birds on the ground in coastal or inland areas. However, numerous searches to find evidence of nesting of this species on Dominica during the second half of the 20th century were unsuccessful. The dramatic re-discovery of Diablotin on Dominica gives that nation a huge role in securing the future of this species.
EPIC has, since 2000, worked throughout the West Indies to further the scientific understanding of the issues faced by the Caribbean ecosystem, educate the public about conservation, and promote public involvement in ecological restoration and protection. The organisation receives the majority of its funding from individual donors.
Formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds, BirdsCaribbean is a non-profit organisation committed to the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in the insular Caribbean. More than 80,000 local people participate in its programmes each year, making it the most broad-based conservation organisation in the region. The organisation’s 20th international meeting is currently taking place in Kingston, Jamaica (July 25 – 29). Find “Birds Caribbean” on Facebook and on Twitter @BirdsCaribbean. Website: www.birdscaribbean.org.
Public health and human rights is among Panos Caribbean’s programme areas, warranting a look at, inter alia, human trafficking.
Human trafficking — the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation — presents both a public health as well as a rights challenge.
It is against this background that we share with you an article from the Jamaica Observer newspaper, which references a recent report, published by the United States State Department on the issue.
The article begins: “The Government [of Jamaica] says it is already in discussions with the United States over its 2015 human trafficking report which Jamaica says does not fairly assess efforts made last year to combat the crime.”
It continues: ”The US State Department released the report yesterday [Monday, July 27], ranking Jamaica for a second straight year on the Tier 2 Watch List. The ranking means that Jamaica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking although the country is making significant efforts to do so.”
READ MORE at: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20150728/government-perplexed-us-over-2015-human-trafficking-report
Meanwhile, the public health implications may be clear, particularly as one considers the illegal movement of people for purposes of sexual exploitation. However, as noted, human trafficking is also a rights issue. One needs only consider the provisions in Jamaica’s own Charter of Rights, which include:
1) the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which the person has been convicted;
2) the right to freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observance of political doctrines; and
3) the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Persons who are trafficked are not able to enjoy these rights.
Have questions or comments?
St Ann communities have come out against bauxite mining in their parish.
This is amidst revelations of the award of a Special Exclusive Prospecting License (SEPL) to Noranda Bauxite.
“Noranda Bauxite Company (49% owned by Rusal, 51% owned by the Government of Jamaica) has been granted Special Exclusive Prospecting License #578 which would expand the company’s mining activities westward through St. Ann into Trelawny and Cockpit Country, including 3,900 hectares (nearly 10,000 acres) of Forest Reserves,” said a release from local community actors and the Windsor Research Centre that operates inside the biodiversity-rich Cockpit Country.
“This prospecting licence covers an area from Mahogany Hall (near Jackson Town) to Brown’s Town (11 kilometers), and extends 18 kilometers southwards to Wait-a-Bit and Cave Valley. Recently Noranda extended mining activities beyond its Special Mining Lease #165 boundaries and is building a haul road into the area covered by SEPL #578: part of a hill has been removed together with John Brady’s farm land and soon the cattle grazing land of an adjacent farmer will also be destroyed,” the release added.
Community members in Gibraltar, Madras and Barnstaple, who are on the edge of this expansion, it said further, are alarmed that mining will begin in their communities.
Reacting to the perceived threat, community members in Gibraltar, Madras and Barnstaple have created community-based associations to stop the expansion of bauxite mining into Western St. Ann and Cockpit Country, and to demand that the government revoke SEPL #578.
To that end, they came together last Tuesday to give informational tours that show the devastating effects of bauxite mining on neighbouring rural communities of Lime Tree Garden, Caledonia and Watt Town, as well as to demonstrate the value of keeping their communities intact.
Bishop Robert Clarke, founder and builder of the Gibraltar New Testament United Holiness Church of Christ, is adamant that Noranda Bauxite’s current mining expansion must be stopped.
“No to mining in the Gibraltar and extended areas, because this will affect both the church’s community and the adjoining community at large; this will also increase poverty in these communities as we rely purely on agriculture as the main source of income,” he predicted in the release.
He is calling on the Government to intervene to save these communities from the destructive consequences of bauxite mining and to also protect the artifacts, monuments and historic buildings, including Gibraltar’s stately Baptist church established in 1873.
Ivy Waltan, Deacon and past-principal of Gibraltar’s all-age school is also opposed to bauxite mining.
“We don’t want our churches and historic sites destroyed and we don’t want our school, which has just been refurbished at a cost of over $40,000,000, to be damaged,” she said.
“Bauxite Mining gives us little or no job opportunities and has been done with no consideration for communities. They mine close to roads, leaving steep drops into deep pits. And reclamation is poor: I want to see proper reclamation demonstrated on existing pits before Noranda even starts discussing more mining,” Waltan added.
Linsford Hamilton, a farmer from Madras said their efforts against mining are geared toward the benefit of “the third and fourth generations because the first generation was stupid and give away gold in return for feathers”.
“It’s like a man sell cow and hang on to the tail,” he added.
Young constituents, too, favour thwarting bauxite mining in the communities.
Lambert Hamilton, 17, chair of their newly formed association in Madras said: “Whatever decisions made now are by persons who will be dead and gone leaving us to bear the consequences. I would like to know if these decision makers are not aware of sustainable development: ‘providing for needs of current generation without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’?”
Meanwhile, the bauxite company has sought to answer the concerns.
“The Special Exclusive Prospecting Licence (SEPL) referred to only allows Noranda to explore (drilling and ground-penetrating radar) and such process has no environmental effects,” the company told the Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica recently.
SOME 200 scientists, ornithologists, conservationists, students, and educators from across the Caribbean and the world will converge in Kingston, Jamaica next week.
They will attend the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, to be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in the capital from July 25 to 29, under the theme “Birds — Connecting Communities and Conservation”.
“The conference has plenty to offer in an unusually urban setting. By contrast, participants will also venture out on exciting field trips to the Blue Mountains and Cockpit Country among other locations, and bird-watching sessions around Kingston — an opportunity to see at least some of Jamaica’s 29 remarkable endemic birds,” said a release from BirdsCaribbean, which is organising the meeting.
Local Organising Committee members include the Forestry Department, Hope Gardens, Jamaica Conservation Development Trust, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, BirdLife Jamaica, and Windsor Research Centre.
Meanwhile, there will also be a special “Jamaica Day” at the hotel on Saturday, July 25 and to a fund-raising workshop conducted by Mazarine Treyz (Wild Woman Fundraising) on Tuesday, July 28.
“Seminars, training workshops and roundtable discussions will enable conference delegates to network and share their research and latest conservation efforts in Jamaica and across the region,” the press release revealed.
Activities will also include a pre-conference taxidermy workshop with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; a symposium on Invasive Alien Species and sessions on Event Photography, Seabird Conservation, Forest Endemics, as well as the Ecological Value of Migrants in the Caribbean.
There is, too, a lineup of keynote speakers and experts from the Caribbean, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. A summer camp at Hope Zoo for children from selected schools is also on the calendar.
A highlight of the meeting will be a photography competition, open to all participants eighteen years and older, reflecting the theme of the conference. Full details can be found on the meeting website.
For registration and other details, go to 2015Meeting.BirdsCaribbean.org
BirdsCaribbean — formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds — is a non-profit organisation committed to the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in the insular Caribbean.
More than 80,000 local people participate in its programmes each year, making it the most broad-based conservation organisation in the region. Find “Birds Caribbean” on Facebook and on Twitter @BirdsCaribbean.
Tel: (876) 894-3772