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Ramesh on U.N. panel on global sustainability

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has been made part of high-level U.N. panel on global sustainability set up by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The 21-member panel has been tasked with finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change and ensuring that economic development is environmentally friendly.

To be headed by the Presidents of Finland and South Africa, the panel will also recommend steps to promote low-carbon growth and enhance resilience to impacts of climate change, as well as to tackle the intertwined challenges posed by poverty, hunger, water and energy security.

The new body is expected to deliver its final report by next December, ahead of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development scheduled for 2012, as well as annual conferences of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said a statement here.

Lobsters, shrimps most vulnerable

Mumbai: Four days after the oil spill from MSC Chitra, an exact assessment of the impact on marine life cannot be done for lack of systematic data on the biodiversity off the Mumbai coast. Monsoon adds to the existing woes.

“One thing is sure, the spill will have an amplified impact on the sedentary marine animals like shells, lobsters, crabs, oysters, shrimps and mudskippers,” said Deepak Apte, Assistant Director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Considering that they form the base of the marine food pyramid, this will have a larger impact on life forms outside the sea as well, including shore birds. “When oil settles on the rocks, in the rock cracks, on the sand or on mudflats, it will create a sheath, thus asphyxiating all life forms under it.”

The impact on fish will be known only in the fair season between December and March. “It will not be clear right now how many larvae or eggs have been affected in the current season. Also, there are some species which breed only once in six years. We have no way of measuring the impact on them till we see them out in the sea,” said Mr. Apte. The impact could be measured on the basis of available ‘natural recruitment data' (the pattern of natural reproduction).

Mangroves will also be affected as this is their peak fruiting season. The mangroves in Vashi have already turned black due to an accumulated oil slick. “But it will not be much of a problem if oil accumulates on the barks of the mangroves,” Mr. Apte said. “The real problem is when the oil settles on aerial roots [also known as pnematophores] or affects their seeds.”

Places on the Mumbai-Raigad coastline like Mandwa and Sasawne have a thick oil deposit on the shore. “They will take a very long time to recover. At other places, depending on the seepage, the recovery may take anything from five months to five years,” said Mr. Apte, who has surveyed all affected sites on the Mumbai-Raigad coast.

Tsunami news : Artificial reef to boost tourism potential

KOVALAM: The multipurpose artificial reef installed off the beach here has emerged as an innovative form of coastal protection, helping to improve the tourist potential of the State.

The reef has demonstrated its potential to protect the severely eroding coast from the waves unleashed by the monsoon. Resort owners and hoteliers are excited at the prospect of an extended tourist season.

Installed between the lighthouse and the Edakkal rocks off the beach, the reef has been able to protect the beach by mimicking natural reef structures and working in concert with nature.

Being off-shore and submerged, there is no visual impact. Within months, the reef has been able to stabilise the famed beach and make it wider on the lighthouse side by cushioning the impact of the waves.

Erosion

“The resorts here have been active only for the first six months of the year till now. During the remaining half, the beaches face severe erosion. We hope that the soft reef will attract tourists throughout the year. Initially, the reef is found to have positive impact. The full extent of its impact will be known only in the next few months,” G. Sudhiesh Kumar, a hotelier, says. The project, funded under the Centre's tsunami rehabilitation programme, was executed by the New-Zealand-based Artificial Surfing Reef Ltd. under the supervision of the Harbour Engineering Department for Kerala Tourism.

Giant 28 geo-textile bags with a life of over 40 years and filled with sand are the building blocks of the reef. The crest of the 100-metre-long reef has been placed just below the low tide line.

It has been placed at a depth of 2 metres to 4 metres so that the reef will block breakers more than one-metre high, leaving only small waves to wash ashore.

Fish life blossoms as the reef provides a firm substrate on the sea-bed for colonization by marine species. But, the fisherfolk and the hoteliers are eagerly awaiting the catch to know the impact of the reef.