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Saturday, September 10, 2011

757 species enlisted for protection under Federal Law - thanks to the efforts of Center for Biological Diversity

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The Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson got approved an agreement to move 757 animal and plant species towards Federal Protection. The organisation has struck a “historic legal settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” on July 12, 2011.In this way; hundreds of “imperiled plants and animals” have been included in the list of Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act of America. As per the Center, the Endangered Species Act is America’s strongest environmental law and the surest way to save species threatened with extinction.
A Press Release by the Center for Biological Diversity reports –
The agreement caps a decade-long effort by the Center’s scientists, attorneys and activists to safeguard 1,000 of America’s most imperiled, least protected species including the walrus, wolverine, Mexican grey wolf, fisher, New England cottontail rabbit, three species of sage grouse, scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, California golden trout, Miami blue butterfly, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, 403 southeastern river-dependent species, 42 Great basin spring snails and 32 Pacific Northwest mollusks.
KierĂ¡n Suckling, the Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, in an email message has informed the author about it. In his own words - here's great news to start your weekend: A federal judge has just approved the Center for Biological Diversity's landmark agreement to move 757 of the country's most imperiled, least protected species toward protection. The judge's signature today makes the historic agreement the Center reached with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official and legally binding. And it's the latest step in a decade-long effort at the Center to get vital federal protection for hundreds of America's most vulnerable plants and animals. All of them now have a fresh shot of survival. We couldn't have done this without you and your support, so thank you and join us in celebrating this important moment.
Here is a copy of the Press Release taken from the website of the organisation for quick reference in the public interest and in the interest of those imperiled species that are under legal protection under one of the world’s strongest Act.
For Immediate Release, September 9, 2011
Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
Court Approves Historic Agreement to Speed Endangered Species Act Protection for 757 Imperiled Species Walrus, Wolverine, Albatross, Fisher, Mexican Gray Wolf, Sage Grouse, 
Golden Trout Among Those Fast-tracked for Protection.
TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal judge today approved a landmark legal agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requiring the agency to make initial or final decisions on whether to add hundreds of imperiled plants and animals to the federal endangered species list by 2018. The court also approved an agreement with another conservation group that it had previously blocked based on legal opposition from the Center.
“The court’s approval today will allow this historic agreement to move forward, speeding protection for as many as 757 of America’s most imperiled species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The historic agreement gives species like the Pacific walrus, American wolverine and California golden trout a shot at survival.”
The Center wrote scientific listing petitions and/or filed lawsuits to protect the 757 species as part of its decade-long campaign to safeguard 1,000 of America’s most imperiled, least protected species. Spanning every taxonomic group, the species protected by the agreement include 26 birds, 31 mammals, 67 fish, 22 reptiles, 33 amphibians, 197 plants and 381 invertebrates.
“With approval of the agreement, species from across the nation will be protected,” said Greenwald. “Habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species and other factors are pushing species toward extinction in all 50 states, and this agreement will help turn the tide.”
Individual species included in the agreement include the walrus, wolverine, Mexican gray wolf, New England cottontail rabbit, three species of sage grouse, scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (‘i‘iwi), California golden trout and Rio Grande cutthroat trout — as well as 403 southeastern river-dependent species, 42 Great Basin spring snails and 32 Pacific Northwest mollusks.
The agreement, formalized today with the judge’s approval, was signed by the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service on July 12. Already dozens of species have been proposed for listing, including the Miami blue butterfly, one of the rarest butterflies in the United States.
While the agreement encompasses nearly all the species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official list of “candidates” for Endangered Species Act protection, two-thirds of the species in the agreement (499) are not on the list. This corresponds with the conclusion of numerous scientists and scientific societies that the extinction crisis is vastly greater than existing federal priority systems and budgets.
“The Endangered Species Act specifically allows scientists, conservationists and others to submit petitions to protect species,” said Greenwald. “These petitions play a critical role in identifying species in need and help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the ever-expanding task of protecting species threatened with extinction.”
The species in the agreement occur in all 50 states and several Pacific island territories. The top three states in the agreement are Alabama, Georgia and Florida, with 149, 121 and 115 species respectively. Hawaii has 70, Nevada 54, California 51, Washington 36, Arizona 31, Oregon 24, Texas 22 and New Mexico 18.
An interactive map and a full list of the 757 species broken down by state, taxonomy, name and schedule of protection are available   on the Website of the Center of the Biological Diversity www.Biological Diversity.org.
 Highlighted species are below.
Species Highlights
American wolverine: A bear-like carnivore, the American wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family. It lives in mountainous areas of the West, where it depends on late-spring snowpacks for denning. The primary threats to its existence are shrinking snowpacks related to global warming, excessive trapping and harassment by snowmobiles.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list the wolverine as an endangered species in 1994. It was placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.
Pacific walrus: A large, ice-loving, tusk-bearing pinniped, the Pacific walrus plays a major role in the culture and religion of many northern peoples. Like the polar bear, it is threatened by the rapid and accelerating loss of Arctic sea ice and oil drilling.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2007. It was placed on the candidate list in 2011. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2017 and finalize the decision in 2018 if warranted.
Mexican gray wolf: Exterminated from, then reintroduced to the Southwest, the Mexican gray wolf lives in remote forests and mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. It is threatened by legal and illegal killing, which has hampered the federal recovery program, keeping the species down to 50 wild animals.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list it as an endangered species separate from other wolves in 2009. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2012 and finalize the decision in 2013 if warranted.
Black-footed albatross: A large, dark-plumed seabird that lives in northwestern Hawaii, the black-footed albatross is threatened by longline swordfish fisheries, which kill it as bycatch.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list this albatross as an endangered species in 2004. It is not on the candidate list.Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection, determine it does not qualify, or find that it is warranted but precluded for protection in 2011.
Rio Grande cutthroat trout: Characterized by deep crimson slashes on its throat — hence the name “cutthroat” — the Rio Grande cutthroat is New Mexico’s state fish. It formerly occurred throughout high-elevation streams in the Rio Grande Basin of New Mexico and southern Colorado. Logging, road building, grazing, pollution and exotic species have pushed it to the brink of extinction.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 1998. It was placed on the candidate list in 2008. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2014 and finalize the decision in 2015 if warranted.
403 Southeast aquatic species: The southeastern United States contains the richest aquatic biodiversity in the nation, harboring 62 percent of the country’s fish species (493 species), 91 percent of its mussels (269 species) and 48 percent of its dragonflies and damselflies (241 species). Unfortunately the wholesale destruction, diversion, pollution and development of the Southeast’s rivers have made the region America’s aquatic extinction capital.
In 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity completed a 1,145-page, peer-reviewed petition to list 403 Southeast aquatic species as endangered, including the Florida sand hill crane, McGillivray’s seaside sparrow, Alabama map turtle, Oklahoma salamander, West Virginia spring salamander, Tennessee cave salamander, Black Warrior waterdog, Cape Sable orchid, clam-shell orchid, Florida bog frog, Lower Florida Keys striped mud turtle, eastern black rail and streamside salamander.
Only 18 of southeast aquatic species are on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue initial listing decisions on all 403 plants and animals in 2011.
 Pacific fisher: A cat-like relative of minks and otters, the fisher is the only animal that regularly preys on porcupines. It lives in old-growth forests in California, Oregon and Washington, where it is threatened by logging.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list the fisher as an endangered species in 2000. It was placed on the candidate list in 2004.Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2014 and finalize the decision in 2015 if warranted.
Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl: A tiny desert raptor, active in the daytime, the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl lives in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It is threatened by urban sprawl and nearly extirpated from Arizona.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 1992. It was protected in 1997, then delisted on technical grounds in 2006. The Center repetitioned to protect it in 2007. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2011 and finalize the decision in 2012 if warranted.
42 Great Basin springsnails: Living in isolated springs of the Great Basin and Mojave deserts, springsnails play important ecological roles cycling nutrients, filtering water and providing food to other animals. Many are threatened by a Southern Nevada Water Authority plan to pump remote, desert groundwater to Las Vegas.
In 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list 42 springsnails as endangered species, including the duckwater pyrg, Big Warm Spring pyrg and Moapa pebblesnail. None are on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue initial listing decisions on all 42 species in 2011.
Scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (‘I‘iwi): This bright-red bird hovers like a hummingbird and has long been featured in the folklore and songs of native Hawaiians. It is threatened by climate change, which is causing mosquitoes that carry introduced diseases — including avian pox and malaria — to move into the honeycreeper’s higher-elevations refuges. It has been eliminated from low elevations on all islands by these diseases.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2010. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2016 and finalize the decision in 2017 if warranted.
Ashy storm petrel: A small, soot-colored seabird that lives off coastal waters from California to Baja, Mexico, the ashy storm petrel looks like it’s walking on the ocean surface when it feeds. It is threatened by warming oceans, sea-level rise and ocean acidification.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2007. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.
Greater and Mono Basin sage grouse: Sage grouse are showy, ground-dwelling birds that perform elaborate mating dances, with males puffing up giant air sacks on their chests. The Mono Basin sage grouse lives in Nevada and California. The greater sage grouse lives throughout much of the Interior West. Both are threatened by oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, development and off-road vehicles.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list the Mono Basin sage grouse as an endangered species in 2005. It was placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.
The greater sage grouse was petitioned for listing in 2002 and placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2015 and finalize the decision in 2016 if warranted.
Miami blue butterfly:  An ethereal beauty native to South Florida and possibly the most endangered insect in the United States, the Miami blue was thought extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 but rediscovered in 1999. It is threatened by habitat loss and pesticide spraying.
It was petitioned for listing as an endangered species in 2000 and placed on the candidate list in 2005. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it on an emergency basis in 2011. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2012 and finalize the decision in 2013 if warranted. In August, the agency protected the butterfly on an emergency basis. 
Oregon spotted frog : The Oregon spotted frog lives in wetlands from southernmost British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to northernmost California. It is threatened by habitat destruction and exotic species.
Key Words: Center for Biological Diversity, Federal Law, threatened, endangered, agreement 
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

Friday, September 9, 2011

China hosts International Conference for Social Equity and Justice

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With the increasing awareness about the conditions of environment and development, concepts of peace, equity and harmony are being thought to be essential. These can be achieved through proper conservation of resources and equal distribution of benefits among masses.
Through the long process of economic development it is experienced that only the powerful and strong people exploited most of the environmental resources even at the cost of migration of poor people already using these resources.
In the modern model of economic development, maximum stress is being put on natural resources and on the poor and inefficient. This condition has caused many disputes and agitations from time to time. In fact, the model of economic development should be based on the principles of peace, harmony and equity. Such type of development is called as sustainable development. Thus sustainable development incorporates both the social development (based on peace and equity) and economic development.
A conference of Asian Political Parties was inaugurated in Nanning (China) on September 4, 2011. It was an International Conference on the Theme Focus on Economic and Social Development.
Zhen Yongkang, a member of the Central Committee of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of China reportedly told in his keynote address that striking a balance between economic and social development and ensuring that the fruits of development went to all the people was essential for sustainable development. In his opinion economic reforms must take into account the stability of society. In case stability of society is not taken into account during steps of economic reforms, the development achieved is feared to be lost.. In the conference delegates from the governments and political parties across Asia took part.
Mr. Zhou Yongkang noted that Asia occupied an important position in the global political and economic landscape. Hence, it was essential for the region to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and to establish social equity and justice.
The chairman of the organising committee and Minister of the International Development of the CPCCC (Communist Party of China Central Committee) Wang Jiarui read the speech Xi Jinping, Vice President of China. The speech said that sharing the fruits of development was “not only the common aspiration of the people of Asian Countries, but also a historical responsibility of Asian Political Parties”. The speech stressed that “development must be for the people and by the people and its fruits shared among the people.
The Hindu (Kolkata) in its issue of September 5, 2011 reports – Asian, had become a life Jacket of the global economy, growing at 7 to 10 per cent for sustained periods. Asia can and should, lead the world, but to do so it must inspire. It would have to form partnership with Brazil, South Africa, and also the U.S., and the European Union.
It is reported that the conference was also attended by Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of United Nations who said investing in people and social protection programmes were the mainstay of national development. The International Development of the CPCCC had also invited the journalists from different parts of Asia.
Key Words: conference, China, Communist Party, CPCCC, Asian Countries, Ban Ki Moon, Brazil, United Nations, International Development