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World Wildlife Fund Global

As the infrastructure growth in the “Asian Century” shows no signs of slowing down, Malaysia has taken a first bold step in addressing how this growth will affect tigers and tiger habitats by holding a leadership forum on including priority tiger habitats into land and infrastructure planning. The meeting, entitled Cross-Sectoral Executive Leadership Forum on Mainstreaming Priority Tiger Habitats, is being held in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 20—22. At the forum, the Government of Malaysia is announcing the construction of viaducts that will promote safe passage for tigers and other wildlife along a busy East-West Highway.

“Smart Green Infrastructure is a vital component of any initiative to save tigers and recover their numbers,” said Mike Baltzer, head of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative (TAI). “As we strive towards TX2—doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022—we must immediately engage governments, international institutions and our partners on the ground to ensure that Asia’s rapid growth leads to opportunities, as opposed to increasing pressure, for tigers and their habitat.” At the forum, the TAI will present Designing a Conservation Landscape for Tigers in a Human Dominated Environment.

Malaysia plans to take its viaduct project one step further by integrating an ambitious forest plan, the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan, into its national spatial plan. The CFS plan will use smart green infrastructure such as viaducts to create forest linkages, which will lead to a contiguous network of forest through the country’s backbone, or spine. Malaysia’s implementation of the CFS plan and its National Tiger Conservation Action Plan will lead to further integration with plans at the state and local levels.

In addition to poaching and the illegal tiger trade, habitat loss and degradation represents the most serious threat to tigers. The pressures on the pockets of habitat where tigers are still holding on will only increase as the growth boom in Asia continues push outward, reaching formerly pristine tiger and wildlife habitat. As wildlife and park authorities look to stem the rising tide, they will need new solutions backed by robust government participation.

Northern Peninsular Malaysia’s Banjaran Titiwangsa Landscape, which includes the Belum-Temengor Priority Tiger Landscape, is one of the Tigers Alive Initiative’s 12 priority landscapes, and where some of the viaducts will be built. The area, which includes Peninsular Malaysia’s longest mountain range and largest national park, also harbors the country’s largest tiger population. Of the 3,200 wild tigers remaining in 13 countries in Asia and the Russian Far East, Malaysia contains a significant percentage of the population, currently standing at approximately 500.

The forum is hosted by Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, World Wildlife Fund partners the Global Tiger Initiative and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and will also include presentations from the tiger range countries of Indonesia and India

For more information, click here.

Green For All

As the nation prepares for President Obama’s State of the Union address, Green For All released a four-part plan Jan. 24 highlighting a vision that would allow the U.S. to maintain its economic lead over the long-term, while putting Americans back to work now.

A mix of political and economic recommendations presented by Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, the plan makes the case that the status quo will not ensure our nation’s future economic success. In a Plan to Keep America First, Green For All presents four steps for building the economy the U.S. needs now and for the future:

  1. Recognize long-term growth opportunities. Specifically, the on-going growth of renewable energy, green jobs, and pollution controls.
  2. Make direct entrepreneurial investments in green technology. Leverage the government’s resources to support the clean energy economy and ensure a robust return on its investment.
  3. Make direct investments in infrastructurewith an eye toward the future. Build infrastructure now that considers long-term sustainability and energy use trends.
  4. Use full power of the executive branch. It’s vital that the private sector work with President Obama to figure out creative ways to make progress.

“There’s no finish line in international economics,” writes Ellis-Lamkins. “First place is always contested and being the leader in any given sector bears real benefit to the population—more jobs, more GDP. We still enjoy the benefits of having been the country that developed the technology and information systems underlying the Internet. Now, we need to commit to a plan that will keep America first.”

Read the full Plan To Keep America First by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

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Green For All is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through a clean energy economy. The organization works in collaboration with the business, government, labor, and grassroots communities to create and implement programs that increase quality jobs and opportunities in green industry – all while holding the most vulnerable people at the center of its agenda.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Noah Garrison

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a new report called Rooftops to Rivers II: Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows. The report discusses the considerable problems that stormwater runoff, which carries pollution to our rivers, lakes and beaches and causes sewage system overflows, poses for our communities, and ways that cities are using green infrastructure practices to clean up their waters, literally greening their cityscapes in the process. 

My colleagues David Beckman, Jon Devine and Rebecca Hammer have pointed out that green infrastructure is a simple and powerful solution to water pollution that makes cities function, from a water perspective, more like the natural landscape by reducing the amount of hardened, paved surfaces that generate rainfall runoff; that cities that use green infrastructure practices to capture rain where it falls have improved their ability to manage stormwater and reduce runoff pollution while saving money and beautifying neighborhoods at the same time—success stories that should encourage the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local officials to adopt policies to drive similar approaches and outcomes nationwide; and, provided specific examples of initiatives cities are taking to stop flooding, reduce pollution and use green infrastructure practices to take on their own unique water management challenges.  Overall, Rooftops to Rivers II profiles the approaches taken by 14 cities in the U.S. and Canada (as well as provides examples from several others), revealing just how far the use of green infrastructure has spread and just how adaptable it is to different regions and climates, to changes in geography and geology, and to the various issues faced by each city.  Green infrastructure works everywhere.

For example, Pittsburgh, whose metropolitan area’s 4,000 miles of sewer pipes and 450 combined and separate sewer overflow structures release 22 billion gallons of untreated municipal waste into surrounding waters every year, has enacted a stormwater ordinance that requires development sites larger than 10,000 square feet in size to retain the first one-inch of rainfall from any storm event on-site, using practices that infiltrate, evapotranspirate with plants, or capture and re-use the rain.  Publicly funded projects are required to retain 1.5 inches of rainfall on-site. The city has also begun a “Green Up Pittsburgh” initiative that offers support for community greening efforts.  The effort has led to more than 120 vacant city lots being transformed into functioning green spaces, removing blight and safety hazards, inspiring community pride and providing environmental benefits.

Toronto stands out for its investment in and long-term vision for green infrastructure to clean up and protect Lake Ontario, which was listed as an “Area of Concern” in a 1972 agreement between the U.S. and Canada.  In 2003 Toronto adopted its Wet Weather Flow Master Plan, a 25-year, $1 billion comprehensive strategy to use both traditional and green infrastructure to eliminate the adverse impacts of stormwater runoff.  Both separately and under the plan, Toronto has taken a multitude of steps to incorporate green infrastructure into city planning and development, including:

  • Establishing specific runoff volume reduction targets to encourage infiltration and rainwater harvesting

  • Initiated a voluntary pilot downspout disconnection program for property owners whose downspouts were directly connected to the city’s combined or separate sewer systems.  Based on the success of the program, in 2007 the City Council voted to make downspout disconnections mandatory throughout the city

  • Formed a Green Roof Task Force to investigate and promote the benefits of green roofs.  A 2005 study estimated that if green roofs were installed on every flat roof in the city, Toronto would save $270 million in municipal capital costs and nearly $30 million annually in benefits.  In 2009 the City Council adopted construction standards requiring all new buildings and retrofits with more than 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) of floor area to include a green roof in their design.

And Kansas City, M0., which created a stormwater utility in 1999 that assesses fees based on the size of a property’s impervious, or runoff generating surface area, has recently broken ground on a 100-acre pilot project that represents the largest focused installation of green infrastructure as the sole control for combined sewer overflows in the nation.  The Middle Blue River Basin Pilot Project, located in the city’s Marlborough neighborhood, will potentially save the city $10 million in capital costs relative to what would have been spent if only traditional stormwater infrastructure was used.

Dozens of other cities across the country have begun incorporating green infrastructure in a similar manner:

  • Indianapolis has completed a Green Infrastructure Master Plan for the city and is using green infrastructure practices like tree plantings, rain gardens and other techniques that absorb rainfall to meet the terms of a federal consent decree that requires a reduction in combined sewer overflows, achieving significant cost savings relative to traditional infrastructure in the process.  Cleveland and Cincinnati are likewise looking to green infrastructure as a means of meeting the terms of consent decrees that require those cities to reduce the amount of combined sewer overflows that send polluted sewage into their waters.

  • Minneapolis has a stormwater ordinance requiring public and private development sites of 1-acre or more to include on-site stormwater management, and is greening a 143-acre, formerly underserved community now known as heritage park in a project that will create a system of interconnected ponds and trails and bring park-like amenities to area residents while using natural systems to treat stormwater runoff

  • Jacksonville, Fla. has partnered with the EPA to focus resources on its neglected downtown urban core, using green infrastructure to reduce runoff and add open space for its residents.  The city is in the process of developing a green infrastructure guidance manual as a tool for developers, architects, engineers, government employees and  anyone seeking clear permitting specifications for green infrastructure construction

  • Tucson, Ariz., which receives an average rainfall of only about 11 inches per year, has embraced rainfall as a valuable resource, and now requires rainwater harvesting to supplement other available water supplies. The city adopted the nation’s first municipal rainwater harvesting ordinance for commercial projects, which took effect on June 1, 2010 and requires facilities subject to the ordinance to meet 50 percent of their landscape irrigation water demand using harvested rainwater.

Green infrastructure works.  It works everywhere.  And it provides benefits that extend well beyond water quality.  As these, and other cities profiled in Rooftops to Rivers II demonstrate, there’s a wide array of approaches, practices, and ultimately, solutions to the problems caused by stormwater runoff that green infrastructure can provide.  And if your community hasn’t embraced the practice yet, then Rooftops to Rivers II provides plenty of examples for how green infrastructure can be used in your city, and how it can help clean up waters while saving your city money and creating a greener, healthier landscape.

For more information, click here.

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