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Tree Planting Day Provides Economic, Social And Environmental Development Across Morocco

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Moroccan communities are being invited to plant thousands of trees donated by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) on Monday 21st January 2019 ‘Tree Planting Day’ – an annual planting event coordinated by the Foundation – contributing to economic, social, and environmental development across the Kingdom of Morocco.

The Foundation’s President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir said “the aim of the day is to promote the spirit of planting at this time of the year, which is the planting season for fruit trees and medicinal plants in Morocco.”

“We invite not only farmers and community associations to get involved, but also schools, parents’ associations, women, cooperatives, children, interfaith groups and all those that would like to participate in planting this season’s life-giving trees,” said Dr. Ben-Meir.

“We will be coordinating planting events in the Provinces of Al Haouz, Azilal, Boujdour, Errachidia, Essaouria, Fes, Marrakech, Oujda, Taroudant, and Taza,” said Dr Ben-Meir.

Using plants provided by HAF nurseries (partnering with Ecosia) and the High Commission of Waters and Forests, the Foundation expects to donate over 8000 organic fruit tree saplings and medicinal plants to communities for Monday’s Tree Planting Day. This will include high-value crops of argan, almond, carob, pomegranate, fig, olive, walnut, and other endemic medicinal plants. HAF and community partners will plant hundreds of thousands of trees over the course of the 2019 season.

HAF Director of Projects Amina El Hajjami said “planting trees not only generates significantly higher incomes for farmers and local families than the traditional crops of barley and corn, but they also provide food security and environmental rehabilitation”.

“Local communities can see returns from fruit tree harvests within two years for pomegranate trees and 5 years for almond and carob trees,” said Mrs. El Hajjami.

“We are encouraging all communities across Morocco to make the most of this year’s tree planting season and invest in their future livelihoods today. We will be present in different parts of the country on Monday 21st January to assist those who may have never planted before, how to plant their trees for optimal results,” Dr. Ben-Meir said.

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Environment

Rwanda Gets 30 White Rhinos But Could Host 1,000

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Rwanda has received a park of 30 white rhinos from south Africa in the world’s largest single translocation.

According to details Rwanda could host a total of 1000 white rhinos for genetic pooling purposes and safety.

“We’re starting with 30, but this could grow – Akagera could be a home for easily 500 or 1,000 white rhino in the future,” said Jes Gruner, of conservation organisation African Parks who oversaw the largest single rhino translocation in history over the weekend.

The translocation involved – 19 females and 11 males, a mix of adults and sub-adults. They were driven from Phinda private game reserve in South Africa’s Munyawana conservancy, flown from Durban to Kigali, then transported by road to Akagera, completing a 40-hour journey of more than 3,400km – a massive logistical undertaking.

“There’s plenty of habitat around the continent, but not necessarily safe habitat. The government of Rwanda has shown their seriousness in conservation and protection in the last 15 to 20 years. It’s been proven – with the reintroduction of 18 black rhinos in 2017 and five more from zoos in Europe – that we can keep them safe. To date, no rhino has been poached, and the growth rate has been positive. That sets the mark for the white rhinos,” said Jes Gruner.

White rhinos are on the verge of extinction because of poaching and loss of habitat. Down to an estimated 18,000 animals across Africa, white rhinos are classified by the IUCN as near threatened, with numbers in decline largely due to poaching, driven by demand for their horns.

Rwanda is believed to be a safe place that would ensure survival and reproduction of these jungle giants. In a bid to secure the future of the near threatened species, 30 animals have been driven, flown and finally re-homed in Akagera national park.

They were flown into Rwanda aboard a Boeing 747. It is hoped Akagera will become a new breeding stronghold to support the long-term survival of the species.

“All the rhinos were slightly sedated to keep them calm and not aggressive or trying to get out of the crates,” said Jes Gruner.

“The rhinos weren’t sedated on the plane in the sense they were totally lying down, as that’s bad for their sternums. But they were partly drugged, so they could still stand up and keep their bodily functions normal, but enough to keep them calm and stable,” Gruner said.

The project is a collaboration between African Parks, the Rwandan government’s Rwanda Development Board and safari company &Beyond, with funding from the Howard G Buffett Foundation. Akagera has been managed by African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board since 2010, with previous reintroductions of lions in 2015 and black rhinos in 2017 and 2019.

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Environment

Rwanda Launches Fight Against Water Weeds

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It has become a common sight on some Rwandan lakes as a giant floating machine pushes away loads of water weeds onto the lake shores.

The most common water weed in Rwanda is the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)- a free-floating tropical American water plant.

This tropical floating aquatic plant has spikes of large blue flowers; It is troublesome in clogging waterways.

It grows rapidly to form thick mats on water surfaces, increases swamps areas, reduces water supply and undermines transport, hydroelectric power production, fisheries and fish breeding.

It can also affect human health by harbouring mosquitoes (malaria), snails (bilharzias), and snakes.

According to Rwanda Water Board, the water hyacinth has covered large sections of most of the lakes in the eastern province making them difficult to navigate.

In some case the weeds have contributed to the drying up of shallow seasonal lakes.

In an effort to better conserve water in the lakes, Rwanda Water Board has taken on the fight against water weeds with a dedicated and state-of-the-art machine.

Chemical composition of water hyacinth

Water hyacinth is composed of chemical elements; C, O, Na, Mg, Al, Zr, Cl, K, Ca, Si, Ti, and Fe revealing dominant elements, i.e., oxygen and carbon for 49.50% and 14.46%, respectively.

Disadvantages of Water hyacinth

It creates dense mats of biomass on water surface which are reducing light to submerged vegetation, can cause oxygen depletions and fish kills.

It causes imbalance in the aquatic micro-ecosystem.

Diversity of fish stocks is often affected from proliferation of water hyacinth.

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Environment

Nigeria, Malawi Leaders Slam The West at COP26

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his Malawian counterpart Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera (pictured above) have directly blamed the western rich nations for their historical responsibility on African continent.

The leaders were speaking at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. Nearly 120 world leaders gathered in Glasgow on Monday to address what scientists and health experts say is the world’s biggest crisis: climate change.

This COP26 summit brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

President Buhari and President Chakwera from Malawi stood out at the opening of the Summit of Heads of State and Government at COP26.

For example, the President of Malawi, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, who directly pointed the finger at the historical responsibility of developed countries for Southern Africa’s poor carbon performance.

South Africa is the continent’s largest CO2 emitter and among the world’s largest contributors, with almost 1.5% of global emissions.

The meeting came on the heels of a G20 summit that delivered, at best, mixed results on climate, with the leaders of the world’s richest countries failing to agree on key targets, such as a firm deadline for the end of coal power.

Landmark deal on forests

The first major commitment to emerge from the conference was a big one: more than 100 leaders, representing more than 85% of the world’s forests, agreed to end deforestation by 2030.

The deal will be officially announced Tuesday, but a UK government statement confirmed the deal late Monday.

Among the nations taking part in the pledge are Canada, Russia, Colombia, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which holds some of the world’s most important carbon sinks.

Crucially, Brazil also signed up. A deforestation crisis has ravaged the Amazon in recent years, putting one of the world’s most crucial natural defenses against climate change at risk, and the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been urged both at home and abroad to toughen his response.

Issues that stand in the way of progress

Trust: Forget talk of temperature rises or dirty coal. The real challenge facing negotiators at this key conference is the issue of trust, or the lack of it.

Credibility: Key to any success in Glasgow has to be the credibility of the host nation. France is generally seen as setting the bar for what a successful presidency looks like, when it hosted the Paris COP in 2015.The government’s strong commitment to the Paris goal of achieving net zero by 2050 – that is, to not add any more carbon emissions to the atmosphere than it can remove – creates credibility, he says.

Volume of work : One of the biggest challenges for this COP is the sheer volume of work. The postponement of last year’s meeting due to Covid is one cause, but it’s also because efforts to carry out the negotiations virtually haven’t worked. Delegates were happy to talk, but refused to take decisions until they met face to face.

The process itself: There is a growing sense among many participants that this UN negotiating process is no longer fit for purpose. The need for consensus from 197 parties, and the legalistic and technical nature of the talks, means there is, in reality, very little room for actual negotiations.

The spin: For months, politicians, negotiators and journalists have been arguing over what success at this conference looks like. This isn’t Paris in 2015 or Copenhagen in 2009, where deal/no deal made it very easy to tell if it was thumbs up or down. The UK’s stated aim to “keep 1.5C alive” – referring to the limit to the annual rise in average temperatures, compared to pre-industrial times. It is a handy sound bite that belies the massive shift in ambition required to achieve it.

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