Green Approaches to Water Safest and Cheapest Solution

Wetlands regulate, clean and cool water. Mare Aux Cochons high-altitude wetlands, Seychelles Islands (ReneeLeahy copyright)
Wetlands regulate, clean and cool water. Mare Aux Cochons high-altitude wetlands, Seychelles Islands (ReneeLeahy copyright)

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 18 2013 (IPS)

After Hurricane Sandy swept through the northeast of the United States late October 2012, millions of New Yorkers were left for days without electricity.  But they still had access to drinking water, thanks to New York City’s reliance on protected watershed areas for potable water.

Instead of using electric-powered water treatment plans, New York City brings its high-quality drinking water through aqueducts connected to protected areas in the nearby Catskill/Delaware forests and wetlands – just one example of how protecting watersheds can provide residential areas with drinking water and flood and pollution protection at bargain basement prices.

New York saved between four and six billion dollars on the cost of water treatment plants by protecting forests and compensating farmers in the Catskills for reducing pollution in lakes and streams.

In 2011, countries around the world invested more than eight billion dollars in similar watershed projects around the world, according to the State of Watershed Payments 2012 report released Thursday. That year, China led the way, accounting for 91 percent of watershed investment.

“Whether you need to save water-starved China from economic ruin or protect drinking water for New York City, investing in natural resources is emerging as the most cost-efficient and effective way to secure clean water and recharge our dangerously depleted streams and aquifers,” said Michael Jenkins, president of Forest Trends, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the United States, which compiled the report. Continue reading

Keeping Wetlands from Becoming Wastelands

By Stephen Leahy

VICTORIA, Seychelles, Feb 5, 2010 IPS

Swamps, marshes and other wetlands are beginning to be recognised as a countrys green jewels, even in a tropical paradise like Mahé Island here in the Seychelles, with its stunning beaches and dramatic granite outcrops.

“Wetlands are one of the worlds richest ecosystems on the planet,” said Joel Morgan, minister for environment, natural resources and transport, Republic of Seychelles.

“We islanders live closer to nature than many others and we have long understood the importance of wetlands and environmental services and resources they provide us with,” Morgan said at the first-ever World Wetlands Week.

Normally, World Wetlands Day is Feb. 2, but this year the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty on conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, is celebrating wetlands around the world throughout the entire week.

The Seychelles were chosen for the global launch of World Wetlands Week because they exemplified the Ramsar principle of wise use successfully balancing tourism, development, food security and biodiversity, said Anada Tiega, secretary general of the Ramsar Convention.

“The Seychelles has done a good job implementing the Ramsar Convention,” Tiega said in the opening ceremony.

The Seychelles Islands are a tropical archipelago 1,800 kilometres off the east coast of Africa with a population of just 85,000 people. They comprise 115 islands – the Inner Islands are tall and granitic and the outer low-lying comprise coralline cays, atolls and reef islands. Although generally small in size, wetlands of various kinds can be found on most islands.

For complete article please see:  Keeping Wetlands from Becoming Wastelands

Wetlands Loss Fuelling CO2 Feedback Loop

By Stephen Leahy

Uxbridge, CANADA, Jul 21 (IPS) – Wetlands are dangerous, scientists say, in the sense that they are ticking carbon bombs best left alone. To help stave off extreme climate change, existing wetlands should be enhanced and new wetlands created so they could capture more carbon.

“Wetlands hold massive stores of carbon — about 20 percent of all terrestrial carbon stocks,” said Eugene Turner, a leading wetlands expert at Louisiana State University’s Coastal Ecology Institute

However, wetlands, including peatlands, continue to be converted to other uses around the world, resulting in large emissions of carbon and methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has 21 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide. 

By itself, climate change is already degrading wetlands, especially in the Arctic and near Arctic regions where the once permanently frozen peatlands are thawing, Turner told IPS prior to the opening of the Eighth INTECOL International Wetlands Conference in Cuiaba, Brazil on Monday. 

“Researchers have been measuring huge releases of carbon and methane up there,” he said. “It’s crazy to add to that by draining or mismanaging other wetlands.” Continue reading