13.09.01: Symposium on Wetlands
in the Tropical Urban Environment, 28, 29, 30 November 2001, Luang
Prabang (Lao Pdr)
Wetlands are the richest and most diverse ecosystems
found on our planet. Homes to great biodiversity, the productivity
of these areas also provides a living to numerous groups of people
across the world. Asian countries, which traditionally look to aquatic
environments to provide a major part of the population's diet, are
more dependent than others on the maintenance and survival of these
ecosystems. Unfortunately, the constant growth of demographic pressure,
urbanisation and industrialisation are endangering the quality of
wetlands to the point where their existence is in doubt. Canalised
and polluted by numerous and various sources of urban and industrial
wastewater, wetlands are becoming sanitation hazards and breeding
grounds for infectious diseases, causing administrators to seek their
extinction. The approach taken in the city of Luang Prabang is different.
Situated in the north of Laos, this city is listed as a UNESCO World
Heritage site not only on account of its urban architectural properties,
but also for natural qualities that include:
* the remarkable landscape at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong
* the various wetland zones which form a network of streams and ponds
throughout the heart of the urban network.
* The decision to conserve these wetland zones was taken after various
studies (e.g. inventory, physical and biological characteristics,
practical use). These have shown that urban pressure, and levels of
pollution much higher than the natural self-cleaning capacity of the
ecosystems, were causing some landowners to fill in ponds. The threatened
disappearance of the wetland zones no longer allowed the possibility
to envisage a more acceptable sanitary situation in a city, where
public water and waste control works could only be foreseen on a long-term
basis. This is the purpose of the programme supported by the European
Commission over a three-year period. The programme has made it possible
to approach preservation and recognition of the wetland zones by :
* establishing a regulatory framework to assure their protection
* installing individual water-treatment apparatus in the absence of
a quality public treatment works
* integration of the zones in the city's tourist development plan
(e.g. ecomuseum, discovery trails)
* training of Lao technicians and public awareness activities among
residents. Included and protected under the same town planning regulations
as the built heritage (the PSMV, or heritage masterplan), these places
now hold significance both for the local population, who continue
to use the sites in several ways, and for tourists, who find in them
an authentic image of Lao cultural identity. The objective of this
symposium is to demonstrate that the preservation and recognition
of wetland zones in the urban environment can be a contributing factor
in harmonious development, and can also generate new resources for
a riverside population.
12.09.01: ICOLD 69th Annual
Meeting, Thursday, 13 September 2001, Dresden
Symposium on "Benefits and Concerns about Dams"
The glamorous days of unlimited dam construction are definitely gone.
Initiated by the industrial countries but nowadays spread world-wide,
dam builders are increasingly facing opposition from many sources.
The bandwidth extends from the well-meaning selfless environmentalist
who tries to protect a certain region, to the powerful international
organisations which support their goals with such ideology. The supporters
have watched this situation in silence for too long, assuming that
the constructions and the resulting benefits would speak for themselves.
The ensuing confrontation easily ends up in complete deadlock, which
benefits no one.
As a promoter and agent of dam construction, ICOLD
can no longer ignore the situation and must face up to it - which
it is doing. This cannot, however, merely be limited to the presentation
of the advantages but must also include knowledge and examination
of the objections. We know insufficient about the counter-arguments,
especially when they are of a non-technical nature.
The presentation of the final report of the World Commission on Dams
(WCD) in autumn 2000 is an excellent opportunity to let members of
the WCD and representatives of the anti-dam movement speak in a symposium
in order to help others understand their position and discuss it in
an open, factual and objective manner. All sides can learn from each
other and thus master this difficult situation.
In three sessions, the WCD's point of view and the pros and cons of
dam construction will be presented by guest speakers and then discussed.
11.09.01: La Marche Bleue
pour une nouvelle Culture de l'Eau porte ses revendications à
BRUXELLES - ERN -La manifestation a eu le succès
attendu, les 10 000 espagnols étaient au rendez-vous ! Du jamais
vu à Bruxelles : tant de gens venus manifester de si loin
Le défilé s'est fait sous une pluie battante et beaucoup
y ont vu un signe : l'eau était avec eux !
Lundi une délégation composée
de Pedro Arrojo du Coagret, de Manel Tomas de la Plateforme de Défense
de l'Ebre et de Roberto Epple de ERN ont été reçus
par le Chef de Cabinet de Mme Wallström (Commissaire Européenne
à l'Environnement ) ainsi que par des membres du Cabinet du
Commissaire aux Affaires Régionales Européennes (Cabinet
Barnier). Des dizaines de milliers de pétitions ont également
été remises au Commissaire des pétitions du Parlement.
Il est clair que le cri d'alerte a été
compris. La Commission à l'Environnement a déjà
demandé à l'Espagne des études supplémentaires
qui ne sont pas encore arrivées et il a été affirmé
à la délégation que la compatibilité du
Plan Hydrologique National espagnol avec la Directive Cadre sur l'Eau
ainsi qu'avec les règlements de Natura 2000 va être très
sérieusement étudiée. La délégation
a aussi demandé que soit appliquées les recommandations
du rapport de la World Commission on Dams.
La délégation a senti une position critique à
l'égard du projet.
Par ailleurs, la Gauche Unie européenne (rassemblant
les députés européens des partis socialistes,
communistes et Verts) a organisé lundi une conférence
de presse au Parlement où elle s'est clairement positionnée
contre le PHN. Parmi ces parlementaires se trouvait Alexander de Roo,
vice-Président de la Commission Environnement au Parlement.
Le vote du projet devrait avoir lieu en octobre et
il suffirait de convaincre quelques députés de droite
pour que le financement du projet soit rejeté
La même délégation continue ses
rencontres à Bruxelles et va jeudi à Dresde pour porter
ses revendications au sommet de l'ICOLD (Commission Internationale
sur les Grands Barrages).
EUROPEAN RIVERS NETWORK
11.09.01: The Blue Marche
brings its claims to the European Union in Brussels.
The demonstration was as successful as expected :
the 10 000 Spanish people were here! No one had ever seen such an
event in Brussels : so many people coming from so far away ! The demonstration
took place under a pouring rain : water was on their side !
On Monday a delegation composed of Pedro Arrojo from
Coagret, Manel Tomas from the Plataforma per a la defensa del Ebro
and Roberto Epple from European Rivers Network meet the Chief of Ms
Wallström Cabinet (European Environmental Commissioner) as well
as members of the Cabinet of the Commissioner to European Regional
Affairs. Thousands petitions have also been presented to the Parliament
Commissioner of petitions.
The message of the Blue Marche seems to have been
understood. The Environment Commission had already asked for further
studies that have not been presented yet and it was declared that
the compatibility of the project with the Water Framework Directive
as well as with Natura 2000 regulations will be seriously studied.
The delegation also demanded an enforcement of the recommendations
of the World Commission on Dams.
The delegation felt that the Commission was critical of the project.
The United European Left (gathering left-wing and
green MEPs) organized on Monday a press conference during which it
officially declared its opposition to the NHP. Among these members
of Parliament Alexander de Roo, vice-president of the Environment
Commission to Parliament, was present.
The vote should take in October and if a few right-wing
MEP can be convinced till then, the funding of the project could be
The same delegation goes on with meeting in Brussels
and on Thursday it will bring its claims to the annual meeting of
ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams) in Dresden.
EUROPEAN RIVERS NETWORK
07.09.01: LA MARCHE BLEUE
ARRIVE A BRUXELLES !
La Marche continue de rencontrer un vif succès
partout où elle passe !
Après Lyon, où elle a été reçue
officiellement à la Mairie, la Marche Bleue s'est ensuite rendue
à Paris où le Conseil Général du Val de
Marne l'a accueillie.
Une importante conférence de presse a eu lieu à l'Assemblée
Nationale où des représentants de nombreuses organisations
sont venus soutenir le mouvement : associations environnementales
: WWF France et WWF Europe, France Nature Environnement, ERN, Eau
et Rivières de Bretagne, Loire Vivante, etc. mais aussi organisations
et partis politiques : Les Verts, le Parti Socialiste, le Parti Communiste,
ATTAC national, Confédération Paysanne, etc. !
La Marche Bleue arrive ce samedi 8 à Bruxelles,
à 15h30, devant la mairie (derrière la grande place).
La Marche sera reçue par la mairie puis une fête devrait
Le lendemain dimanche sera le jour de la grande manifestation internationale.
Le rassemblement aura lieu à la gare du Nord à 13h.
Le départ est prévu pour 14h, direction gare du Midi.
Une tribune sera mise en place et diverses prises de parole auront
Puis à 16h, conférence de presse à la Casa de
Astourias (Bd du Midi n°100).
Plus de 10 000 espagnols sont déjà attendus
EUROPEAN RIVERS NETWORK
BLUE MARCHE ARRIVES IN BRUSSELS !
The Blue Marche has been a success everywhere in France
After Lyon, where an official reception was organized in the town
hall, the Marche head for Paris, where the Conseil Général
du Val de Marne accomodated the participants.
An important press conference took place in Parliament
(Assemblée Nationale) where representatives of numerous organizations
had come to support the movement : environmental associations : WWF
France, WWF Europe, France Nature Environnement, ERN, Eau et Rivières
de Bretagne, Loire Vivante, etc. but also political organizations
and parties : the Green party, the Socialist party, the Communist
party, ATTAC, la Confédération Paysanne, etc.
The Blue Marche arrives in Brussels tomorrow (saturday)
at 3 PM, in front of the Town Hall (behind the big square). Then the
Marche will be officially welcomed in the Town Hall.
The day after (sunday) will be the day of the big
The gathering will took place at 1 PM in front of the Gare du Nord.
The demonstration will depart at 2 PM towards the Gare du Midi. There,
several speeches will be organized.
A press conference will took place in la Casa de Astourias (Bd du
Midi n°100) at 4 PM.
EUROPEAN RIVERS NETWORK
06.09.01: Japan power firm
cancels hydro power plant plan
TOKYO - Japan's semi-governmental Electric Power Development Co Ltd
said yesterday it had decided to cancel a plan to build a hydro power
plant due to weak electricity demand amid the nation's prolonged economic
woes.The power wholesaler had planned to build the hydro plant at
a site about 300 km (186 miles) north of Tokyo in Niigata Prefecture,
with total capacity of 1.8 million kilowatts.
The plant was expected to start operations in the 2011 business year,
and to supply electricity to Japan's largest power utility, Tokyo
Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO), and Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc, the
The firm also said it would withdraw from a dam project in Niigata
Prefecture, jointly developed with the local government.
Electric Power Development needed to curb capital spending and strengthen
its balance sheet ahead of planned privatisation in 2003, company
officials told a news conference.
"Peak power demand has been sluggish in recent years. The two
electric power firms asked us to significantly delay the (plant) plan,"
said Executive Managing Director Hisao Nakagami.
"But we eventually decided to cancel the plan, ahead of privatisation."
The total cost of the dam project was estimated at 360 billion yen
($3 billion), with Electric Power Development so far investing about
14 billion yen for environmental and geological surveys.
Japan's peak power demand between 1986 and 1990, before the bursting
of the bubble economy, grew an average six percent per year. But demand
is expected to grow by only one percent per year over the next 10
years due to energy conservation measures and prolonged weakness in
the economy, Nakagami said.
News of the pullout followed the announcement in March that Electric
Power Development and Hokuriku Electric Power Co would freeze a plan
to build a hydro power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
TEPCO's shares ended down 0.94 percent at 3,150 yen, while Tohoku
Electric gained 3.08 percent to 2,175 yen.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Biggest Europe reservoir to start filling year end
ALQUEVA, Portugal - Europe's biggest reservoir - the
subject of bitter criticism by environmental groups - will start to
fill as planned at the end of 2001, Portuguese Planning Minister Elisa
Ferreira said this week.
Along with environmental concerns and worries that
the reservoir would flood ancient cave drawings, newspaper reports
have said the two billion euro ($1.82 billion) Alqueva dam on the
Guadiana River is behind schedule and over budget.
But Ferreira said construction of the reservoir, aimed at providing
water for Portugal's semi-arid Alentejo region, was following its
timetable. When completed, the project will cover 250 square km (97
square miles) and eventually irrigate 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres)
"Right now, the work is in fact steaming ahead and is even making
up for lost time," she told reporters at the dam site.
Ferreira said operations to start filling the reservoir were scheduled
for December 31 during winter rains.
Ferreira was at Alqueva, about 180 km (110 miles) southeast of Lisbon,
for a special cabinet meeting that set an initial price of 11 escudos
(0.055 euro) per cubic metre of water from the reservoir for agricultural
The cabinet of Prime Minister Antonio Guterres also approved a measure
that set up a land bank in the Alentejo to sell or rent land to young
Construction of the dam involved felling a million trees, many of
them cork oaks. Environmental groups protested that the project would
destroy habitat for animals that include eagles, kites, wild boars
and some of the few remaining Iberian lynxes.
Guterres vowed in April to go ahead with the project despite opposition
criticism that cave drawings in the Guadiana valley would end up under
The dam also will force residents of the village of Luz to move into
a newly built replica of the town on what will be the banks of the
The project has cost about 450 million euros since 1995, Ferreira
said. By its conclusion in 2025, it is estimated to cost two billion
O Independente newspaper reported last month that the dam would only
begin to operate in October 2002, leading to a cost overrun of 30
Story by Daniel Silva
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Missouri River plan criticized by green groups
WASHINGTON - The US Army Corps of Engineers unveiled
a plan last week to save endangered animals along the Missouri River,
drawing immediate criticism from environmental groups who said it
failed to go far enough.
Instead of proposing a single approach, the Corps
said it was considering six options to improve the Missouri River,
the nation's longest river that was once explored by Lewis and Clark.
The options range from staying with the present situation to increasing
water levels in the spring and lowering them in the summer to save
three endangered species - the pallid sturgeon, piping plovers and
The 2,340-mile (3,765 km) Missouri River flows from Montana to St.
Louis, where it joins the Mississippi River. Over the years, the Corps'
construction of dams, levees and reservoirs to help barge traffic
and reduce farmland flooding has changed the river's ecosystem and
hurt many fish and bird species.
Environmental groups said the Corps buckled to political pressure
from local businesses and farms, and backed down from an earlier proposal
supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to alter the plan.
"The Corps is running for cover and hoping that the six months
of public meetings might galvanize one particular option over another
effecting the Corps' presentation."
The Fish and Wildlife Service has urged the Corps to increase water
flow during the spring and lower levels in the summer to mimic the
river's natural flow that has been stunted by flood control, navigation
and nearby development.
But farmers fear the rushto make changes by 2003 to how it manages
the river so that it no longer violates the Endangered Species Act.
LAWMAKERS DIVIDED ON RIVER
The future of the Missouri River has been hotly debated in Washington.
Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who opposes the spring rise,
has sparred with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat from
South Dakota, who has pushed for reform within the Corps.
"By failing to (choose a preferred alternative for the Missouri
River), the Corps has made what I feel is only the latest in a series
of bad decisions," Daschle said in a statement.
"The only way to ensure that the Corps does its job is to pass
legislation to reform the agency as a whole," he said.
President George W. Bush said during a campaign stop in Missouri last
year that he would oppose any plan to increase water levels during
"Any observer can tell you that politics and the river have been
intertwined, but is is the responsibility of the Corps to make decisions
based on science," said Col. David Fastabend, commander of the
Corps' northwestern operations.
Fastabend said four of the six plans meet the recommendations of the
Fish and Wildlife Service.
Environmental groups say that while the Corps' plan failed to offer
one specific recommendation, it showed that previous estimates of
damage to area levies and farmland was exaggerated by agriculture
"It doesn't do any good to gnash our teeth and wring our hands
about the lack of a preferred alternative," said Chad Smith,
a director for American Rivers in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"What's important is they have presented a lot of information
that can calm people's fears," he said.
The public has until February to comment on the proposals before the
Corps decides which one to implement the following year.
Story by Christopher Doering
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE