Endangered Migratory Birds on Collision Course with New Airport Construction in Philippines
A new airport under construction in a key wetland habitat just north of the Philippine capital is poised to impact dozens of migratory bird species, many of them already threatened, observers say.
The 2,500-hectare (6,200-acre) "aerotropolis" complex in Bulacan province, 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Manila, is part of a wider infrastructure development push that will reclaim nearly 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of wetland in Manila Bay.
But at least 12 currently threatened or near-threatened bird species would be affected by the airport project, according to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), a national association of bird-watchers. This includes the black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor), a rare, large waterbird classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. A frequent visitor of mudflats, the spoonbill has an estimated global population of 2,250 individuals, according to BirdLife International.
"Out of the 50 million migratory birds that pass through the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, about 27% pass through the Philippines," Cristina Cinco of the WBCP said at a press conference at the end of January. "We're talking about 60 migratory species and we have 12 that need to be protected."
The figures come after the annual Asian Waterbird Census conducted from Jan. 11 to 19 this year, during which birders from the WBCP recorded 24 black-faced spoonbills at the location of the future airport — the first time in more than a century that the endangered species has been observed in Manila Bay. It's also the single biggest flock ever recorded for the species in the country, Cinco says.
Proposed Bulacan Aerotropolis
The 745.6 billion peso ($15 billion) Bulacan airport project by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the biggest company by revenue in the Philippines, is among the 22 reclamation projects planned for Manila Bay, the Philippine capital's center of navigation, trade and commerce. Approved under President Rodrigo Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" program, the airport is the country's most expensive infrastructure project to date. It's expected to help ease air traffic at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and accommodate 100 million passengers per year. But unlike other reclamation projects in the bay, which are at varying stages of approval, the aerotropolis has already been greenlit and had its ground-breaking on Jan. 15.
It's not just the spoonbills that are at risk from the airport project, Cinco said. Several endangered waterbird species in the same area face the same threat. Among these are the Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), the largest migratory shorebird, and the great knot (Calidris tenuirostris), both endangered under the IUCN, and the vulnerable Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes).
Near-threatened species such as the Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus), bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata), red-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis), red knot (Calidris canutus), and curlew sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) have also been recorded lingering around the site of the airport project and thus face the same threats.
While estimated numbers of the Far Eastern curlew are dwindling worldwide, Cinco said WBCP members saw hundreds of these shorebirds in Bulacan, which has the largest share of coastal wetland in the whole stretch of Manila Bay. Given the wetland's ecological importance, Cinco said it should be recognized as a Ramsar site to protect the species within its domain.
An endangered Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) is among the migratory birds spotted in Bulacan's wetlands. ken / Flickr
Manila Bay, which straddles five provinces, is home to more than 200,000 waterbirds during the high season, 75% of them migratory, according to a report by Arne Jensen of Wetlands International. A quarter of the critical wetlands in Manila Bay fall within the jurisdiction of Bulacan.
Every year, more than 50 million waterbirds, including 32 threatened and 19 near-threatened species, travel through the Philippines by the East Asian Australasian Flyaway, one of the world's biggest migratory bird flight paths, according to data from the environment department. The Philippines has seven sites designated as wetlands of international importance, or Ramsar sites, which together host more than 80 species during the annual migration season.
In Bulacan, sunrises and sunsets draw in hundreds of thousands of birds, Cinco said — a good indicator of the site's environmental importance. With the reclamation project underway, she said, the birds face displacement. "Of course when you reclaim [land], they [birds] lose their habitats. Where will they go?" Cinco said. "They will relocate, yes, but what is their effect on the flyway?"
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
- Why Face Masks Belong at Your Thanksgiving Gathering + 7 Things ... ›
- Reasons to Be Thankful — 8 Food and Farm 'Good News' Stories ... ›
- Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving - EcoWatch ›
By Alex Middleton
Losing weight and reducing fat is a hard battle to fight. Thankfully, there are fat burner supplements that help you gain your target body and goal. However, how would you know which supplement is right for you?