Le Monde : La Réunion gèle 40 % de ses terres pour protéger la biodiversité
LE MONDE | 15.07.08 | 15h03 • Mis à jour le 16.07.08 | 07h30
LA RÉUNION ENVOYÉE SPÉCIALE
Ce matin, Jean Hivert prend la route des hauts de Saint-Leu, sur l'île de la Réunion. Trois fois par semaine, ce scientifique du Conservatoire national botanique de Mascarin recense sur le terrain les plantes qui figureront dans l'Atlas de la flore réunionnaise. Le projet a été lancé il y a trois ans. Jusqu'à présent, 15 % de la superficie de l'île ont été couverts. Au rythme de deux mailles par jour, soit 2 km2, le travail avance lentement.
1988 : Norman Meyer, un environnementaliste britannique, définit le concept de "hot spot" (point chaud) de la biodiversité.
1989 : la grande ONG américaine Conservation International reprend l'idée à son compte et fixe deux critères. Pour faire partie d'un "hot spot", une région doit concentrer au moins 1 500 espèces de plantes endémiques et 70 % au moins des habitats originels doivent avoir été détruits.
2008 : on compte 34 "hot spots" dans le monde. Ils concentrent 50 % des plantes endémiques recensées sur la planète. Les grandes organisations écologistes ciblent en priorité leur action sur ces régions.
"A deux personnes, nous devons couvrir 2 500 km2 et je n'ose plus prévoir quand nous aurons terminé. Cette marche sera certainement la plus longue de ma vie", sourit Jean. Pour un botaniste, la Réunion est un terrain rêvé. Elle est, avec les autres îles de l'archipel des Mascareignes, l'un des 34 "points chauds" de la biodiversité mondiale reconnus pour abriter un nombre exceptionnellement élevé d'espèces uniques. Des espèces qui figurent aussi parmi les plus menacées.
A la Réunion, un tiers encore de la végétation primaire est resté intact, soit bien davantage qu'à Maurice ou à Madagascar. En 2007, un parc national naturel a été créé pour la protéger. Il épouse grosso modo les limites du domaine forestier géré jusqu'alors par l'Office national des forêts (ONF), couvre 100 000 hectares, soit plus de 40 % de la superficie de l'île. Le 9e parc national français a été officiellement inauguré mercredi 9 juillet.
Sa création a donné lieu à de houleux débats. Et si les élus se sont finalement rangés à l'idée, les craintes demeurent. Dans une région où le taux de chômage dépasse 20 % et où un grand nombre d'habitants vivent d'allocations de solidarité, l'idée de devoir un jour sacrifier des projets de développement sur l'autel de la biodiversité ne plaît pas à tout le monde.
D'autant qu'ici, la croissance démographique alourdit chaque jour un peu plus les besoins. En 2030, selon toutes les prévisions, la population atteindra 1 million d'habitants, contre 765 000 aujourd'hui. "Les gens ne pourront pas faire autrement que de monter vers les hauts, et le parc sera entouré d'une vaste ville", prédit Dominique Strasberg, professeur à l'université de la Réunion. Les communes situées dans la zone tampon entre le parc et le littoral ont deux ans pour rédiger un cahier des charges qui fixera les termes d'un modus vivendi.
Le relief fracturé de la Réunion constitue, dans cette compétition pour l'espace, le principal atout des défenseurs de la biodiversité. La succession d'événements volcaniques à l'origine de ce caillou posé au milieu de l'océan Indien a mis à l'abri, en les rendant difficilement accessibles, des paysages singuliers. Comme la forêt primaire de Bebour-Bélouve qui offre, au coeur de l'île, le spectacle de fougères arborescentes pouvant atteindre une quinzaine de mètres de haut.
La beauté de ces paysages n'est pas la seule raison qui milite en faveur de leur préservation. "La régulation des pluies repose sur cette végétation. La "mer" de nuages qui recouvre l'île la plupart du temps produit ce que nous appelons des "pluies occultes" que seuls certains arbres sont capables de capter. Sans eux, l'alimentation en eau de tout le territoire serait totalement désorganisée", explique le géographe René Robert.
Sur son cahier, Jean Hivert note méticuleusement toutes les espèces qu'il rencontre. Une colonne est réservée aux plantes envahissantes, ces "pestes végétales" qui colonisent petit à petit les espaces les plus reculés et constituent pour le moment l'une des menaces principales pour la survie des plantes endémiques. A la Réunion, les spécialistes estiment à une centaine le nombre de ces "plantes du mal". "L'ensemble du parc est touché à des degrés divers", affirme Julien Triolo, de l'ONF. C'est à lui que Jean Hivert envoie des messages d'alerte lorsqu'il identifie un nouveau foyer d'invasion sur lequel il est encore possible d'agir.
Le plus souvent, l'arrachage se fait à la main, mais, dans les cas les plus graves, les botanistes optent pour une riposte biologique en introduisant un parasite ou un insecte prédateur. Cette opération très délicate vient d'être engagée dans le sud de l'île pour lutter contre le raisin marron, une liane dont la progression est galopante.
"Il faut en moyenne dix ans pour trouver le bon agent ; cela marche une fois sur deux et cela coûte très cher", avertit Christophe Lavergne du Conservatoire botanique de Mascarin. Dans ce cas précis, l'insecte a été importé de Sumatra. Avant de procéder aux premiers lâchers sous serre, les scientifiques se sont assurés en laboratoire qu'il ne s'attaquerait pas aux cultures commerciales comme la canne à sucre, le café, la mangue... ni aux autres plantes indigènes.
La lutte contre le goyavier, considéré comme l'une des cinq plantes les plus conquérantes au monde, est plus délicate. Le commerce de ses baies rouges est devenu une source de revenus pour certains habitants vivant à l'intérieur du parc. Depuis une dizaine d'années, à l'occasion d'une fête populaire, la petite commune de La Plaine-des-Palmistes élit même, sa "Miss Goyavier". Et le maire ne veut surtout pas entendre parler de "peste végétale".
General Environment News Uganda: NFA Blamed for Destruction of Forests New Vision (Kampala): The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has not done much to prevent the destruction of forests, the Mukono district chairman has said. Lukooya Mukome said: "Since the year began we have not licensed anyone to cut trees in any forest reserve. Unfortunately, these encroachers get licenses from NFA and destroy our forests." He was on Tuesday opening a seminar on the Mabira Forest management plan at Mukono community centre. The plan drawn by the authority is aimed at conserving the forest to promote nature-based tourism and investment. Lukooya accused the authority of selling timber from Ssi, Ngogwe, Nagojje and Koome forest reserves without remitting the revenue to Mukono. But the lakeshore forest range manager, Sephen Galimo, blamed the communities for being hostile to them, making them incur costs in recovering stolen timber from gazzetted forests. http://allafrica.com/stories/200807170191.html Ethiopia: Industries Urged to Protect City's Natural Environment Sector Advised to Employ Environmental Audit The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa): Industries must design and plan a mechanism by which they can contribute to reduce environmental pollution, the Addis Ababa City Administration Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) urged on Tuesday. The authority said it was empirical that the industries do so as their waste products have direct impact on the well being of the natural resource, environment, people, and animals. The statements were made by Dr. Hailu Worku, EPA General Manager in his key remarks at a training workshop the authority organized for representatives from the industry sector in Addis Ababa. He said that in order to reverse the environmental pollution trends particularly by wastes generated from manufacturing industries, it has been found very necessary to build the capacity of partners at the industries and staff of EPA in environmental auditing instruments. Most of industries in the city have no proper avoidance of waste products, Hailu said. During the workshop, a presentation was made on the concept and need of Environmental audit, a mechanism said to play an instrumental role in the protection and maintaining of the natural environment. http://allafrica.com/stories/200807170374.html Namibia: Country Approves CDM Project New Era (Windhoek): A geothermal energy project has become the first clean development mechanism (CDM) project to be approved in Namibia. CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows industrialised countries with a commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries, as an alternative to more expensive emission-reduction mechanisms in their own countries. By reducing emissions, Namibia can earn carbon credits from industrialised countries willing to reduce their emissions under the CDM, which may result in significant investments that would in turn contribute to sustainable development. An official at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said yesterday the geothermal energy project was approved even though its final approval will come from the executive board of the CDM based in Bonn, Germany. The official said although the project promoters still have to sort out a number of issues, they indicated that they are ready to have the project started by end of year. http://allafrica.com/stories/200807170752.html
3- Mexico - Kids Sign Charter Against Global Warming
4- Honduras - Climate Threatens Food Production
1- Caribbean - Tropical depression less likely in SE Caribbean: NHC 07 – 17 – 08 NEW YORK, USA- A low-pressure system in the southeastern Caribbean Sea became a little less organized and the potential lessened for it to form into a tropical depression, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) advisory on Thursday.
The NHC, however, will continue to monitor the system for signs of development as it moves westward at 20 to 25 miles per hour.
The energy market has been watching this system since the NHC on Monday first forecast it could develop into a tropical depression.
Some weather models forecast the system will pass near Aruba, where an oil refinery is located. All models project the system will swirl westward across the Caribbean Sea and hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in about five days.
If it crosses the Yucatan it could disrupt the Cantarell Field in the Bay of Campeche, the biggest oil field in Mexico.
Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities.
Commodities traders also watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast.
If the system manages to strengthen into a tropical storm, with winds of 39 to 73 mph, the NHC will name it Cristobal.
CENTRAL AMERICA TROPICAL WAVE
The NHC was also watching a westward-moving tropical wave over the southwestern Caribbean Sea near Nicaragua, which could develop into a tropical depression Thursday before it reaches the coast of Central America tonight.
Regardless of development, the NHC expects the system to produce heavy rains and gusty winds over portions of Nicaragua and Honduras during the next day or so, which could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Source:http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN1626152320080717?sp=true 2- Caribbean - Caribbean palm trees threatened by invasive species 07 – 17 – 08 GEORGETOWN, Guyana: The palm tree, which is so synonymous with the tourism industry in the Caribbean, is under threat from a small red mite that has taken root and is severely affecting palm trees across the Caribbean Basin.
It was revealed by a scientist 15 July 2008 at a symposium on invasive species in Miami that the Red Palm Mite, which is believed to have first arrived in the Caribbean in 2003, could now be found in 12 Caribbean islands, Venezuela and two counties in the US State of Florida.
The tiny mite is a pest of coconut and ornamental palms, with the former being heavily used by the local population as an economic enterprise and the latter used to adorn many hotels and to a lesser extent, private homes in the Caribbean.
In a presentation at the US Department of Agriculture programme for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture Research, T-STAR, sponsored symposium on invasive species, Red Palm Mite expert Dr Amy Roda revealed that coconut growers in the affected countries were reporting a 70 percent reduction in yield. In a study in which experts from the Caribbean and Florida, participated, it was further revealed that to date efforts at controlling this pest had not reaped significant results.
Roda informed that the Red Palm Mite starts its attack on the small lower hung leaves on palm trees and once it has had its fill it moves to the more mature leaves causing a yellowing of the leaves of the affected trees.
She added that to date, officials in the affected countries have experimented with mainly two treatment methods, namely pesticides and natural enemies, but neither had met with much success. She however stressed that efforts would continue on both fronts as a means of managing the pest.
The scientist was of the opinion that affected countries needed to combine their efforts and share expertise in dealing with Red Palm Mite. She revealed that with increase in tourist trade the Red Palm Mite is being unknowingly moved across national borders in souvenirs made out of palm, in particular green palm.
She informed that Florida had developed cooperation mechanism with cruise line officials and as a result cruise line passengers were "voluntarily declaring souvenirs made from palms when their boats dock at the port and before they actually leave the roads."
The issue of the Red Palm Mite has started to attract increasing attention among plant specialists with an increasing number of studies taking place and with the formation of a Working Group on the pest with membership from the affected countries. The group will be meeting within the margins of the CFCS Meeting.
The increased attention stems from the reality that palms both coconut and ornamental do play an important role in the economies of Caribbean countries and therefore effort must be made to stem the tide of destruction.
The seriousness of the Red Palm Mite disease was also recognized by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Plant Health officials at their inaugural meeting in Guyana in April this year.
They concluded that coconuts were an important part of the economic life of the Caribbean as many countries had established industries based on the consumption of coconut water by nationals and tourists.
They added that if the onset of invasive species such as the Red Palm Mite that affect palms was not dealt with on a continuous basis, the effect could be devastating.
3- Chile - President Bachelet visits Llaima volcano eruption zone 07 -16 – 08 The President is accompanied by the Minister of Defense, José Goñi, and hopes to perform a helicopter flyover observation of the volcano if weather conditions allow.
TEMUCO, Chile.- President Michelle Bachelet is currently on her way to visit the city of Melipeuco, located 17 kilometers from the Llaima volcano, in order to perform an on-site evaluation of the measures and evacuation plans being adopted by the local emergency committee amid the irregular bursts of eruptive activity being observed at the mountain in the Araucanía Region.
The President is accompanied by the Minister of Defense, José Goñi, and hopes to perform a helicopter flyover of the volcano if weather conditions allow, although the peak is currently being obstructed by cloud cover and heavy rain.
Later, the President will travel to the town of Cherquenco to visit five people that have taken shelter inside the Escuela Municipal Japón and will end her visit after meeting with the mayors of the four municipalities – Vilcún, Melipeuco, Cunco and Curacautín- where the eruption has prompted a yellow alert to be declared
The volcanic eruption began in May of last year and registered its most intense episodes in January and June of this year, when there was a danger of lahars.
Source: http://www.emol.com/noticias/ingles/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=313075 4- Guyana - Climate change fundamental threat to sustainable development, says Guyana minister
07 – 17 – 08
GEORGETOWN, Guyana: In echoing the arguments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries about the impact of climate change on Caribbean economies, Guayana's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues told the Sixth United Kingdom/Caribbean forum, which opened this week in London, that the phenomenon is now among the most fundamental threats to the sustainable development and even existence of the Caribbean region.
The two-day forum’s first session dealt with sustainable development as it relates to climate change and eco-tourism and the Minister pointed out that both (climate change and eco-tourism) have maintained a prominent place on national, regional and international agendas in keeping with development aspirations and with the region’s overarching desire to achieve international objectives including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 target date.
“Small states, like those in the Caribbean, cannot promote sustainable development on their own and without the assistance of friendly and like-minded states. This is because there are special challenges which face small states as a group,” she said.
It was noted that among the challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are the fact that some are low-lying coastal states (such as Belize, Guyana and Suriname), small populations, susceptibility to natural disasters, excessive dependence on international trade and vulnerability to global developments.
“These states also suffer from added setbacks such as a lack of economies of scale and high transportation and communication costs,” the Minister emphasised.
In alluding to articles 4.8 and 4.9 of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC), the Foreign Affairs Minister said Least Developed Countries and SIDS are the most vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change through hurricane and flood ravages which have become more intense and frequent as a result of changing weather patterns.
“Unfortunately, while the Caribbean contributes little to adversely affect the climate, it feels the brunt of these adverse impacts…some countries in the Caribbean, such as Guyana and Suriname, with large forest cover, contribute positively to a cleaner environment through the eco-system services they provide,” she said.
On this note, it was explained that CARICOM has remained committed to putting programmes in place and implementing initiatives to confront the threats. One such initiative was noted to be the Mauritius Strategy, derived from the Barbados Plan of Action review that sought to build the region’s capacity to identify and implement appropriate climate change adaptation actions. These actions have resulted in projects such as the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change.
“CARICOM Heads have reaffirmed the importance of reviewing and strengthening adaptation policies. It is essential that these and other issues of importance to the Caribbean be advanced in the negotiations for a post-Kyoto framework and we welcome the efforts being made by the United Kingdom in the context of its membership in the Group of Eight in advancing efforts for the successful realisation of a comprehensive post 2012 Kyoto agreement,” Minister Rodrigues contended while expressing the hope that the framework would holistically address the challenges associated with climate change.
She emphasised that one important aspect of achieving sustainable development is financing development, which is an urgent need of SIDS.
“It entails the need for the emphatic understanding and willingness of the more affluent developed countries to be part of the process in tangible ways. At the same time developing states recognise the important role they must play in contributing to their own development and have formulated National Development Strategies to address this objective,” Rodrigues pointed out.
With this in mind, she expressed appreciation for the British Government’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in October last between the Caribbean Climate Change Centre and the British Department for International Cooperation which provides for DFID to fund the development of a regional Strategic Plan for Climate Change.
“We have noted with interest, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s proposal for the establishment of a new global climate change agreement with the United Nations at the centre and with binding targets for all developed countries-the halving of global emissions by 2050 and new incentives for developing and emerging economies with a view to assist them to reduce their growth in emissions through new flows of financial technology,” the Foreign Affairs Minister told the forum.
The Minister said CARICOM looks forward to discussions with the UK on ways in which they could work jointly to advance these positions.
She outlined the Iwokrama forest initiative in Guyana and also alluded to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda last year where a plan was announced that would place the countries’ standing forests at the disposal of the Global Campaign against Climate Change while earning carbon credits to assist in national development.
Rodrigues also made reference at the forum to the steps taken by CARICOM at a recent meeting for the initiation of a Regional Tourism Investment Fund and the UK’s support for the Fund.
She concluded by expressing the hope that the forum would provide the opportunity for the countries to advance practical measures for cooperation in the areas she outlined and noted that CARICOM is looking forward to the support of the UK as the countries work to fulfill their sustainable development goals.
President Bharrat Jagdeo has long been advocating that countries with intact standing rainforests receive monetary compensation for the services these forests provide to the rest of the world as they store large amounts of carbon.