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Trees, soil and water

In the news

Floods Kill 80 in Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nepal, July 20, 1999 (ENS) -- Floods and landslides have killed at least 80 people in Nepal. Millions of dollars worth of property are lost. Forests on the Himalayan mountainsides used to absorb much of the annual summer monsoon rain, but widespread clearcutting has now allowed the water to reach unprecedented flood proportions. Fifty-five out of 75 districts of this Himalayan Kingdom have been badly affected by floods and landslides triggered by the heavy downpours. Several hundred houses, thousands of hectares of rice paddy fields and dozens of bridges have also been washed away.

Floods: BEIJING, August 26, 1998: At a government news conference on the disastrous floods Tuesday, Zhao Qizheng, chief of the State Council Information Office, said the government had decided to shut down logging activities in the upper catchments of the Yangtze River. The deforestation has led to more rapid runoff of rain waters and increased silting of river and lake beds. He said all cleared areas would be replanted in a long-term strategy of ecological restoration. (The New York Times)

One year later:
Drought Evaporates Water Supply for Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Canton
SHENZHEN, China, August 24, 1999 (ENS) -- At the same time that flood waters along the Yangtze River in central China have killed 800 and displaced millions this summer, the drying up of the East River in southern China's Guangdong Province has led to a serious water shortage problem in the Pearl River Delta.

Erosion caused by deforestation sends a stain of sediment into the sea off the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (Photo courtesy National Aeronautic and Space Administration) -- ENS

Logging Blamed in Vietnam's Second Wave of Floods
HANOI, Vietnam, December 9, 1999 (ENS) -- Environmentalists are blaming widespread illegal logging as a factor in disastrous flooding that has hit the central coast of Vietnam for the second time in two months.

Indonesia's Forests Vanishing Faster Than Ever
JAKARTA, January 25, 2000 -- Indonesia's forests are disappearing even faster than studies a few years ago indicated. Using 1997 satellite imagery, the Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops has produced new forest cover maps for the islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Sumatra which show a shocking loss of more than 17 million hectares in 12 years. This is one-fourth of the total Indonesian forest cover that existed in 1985. The ministry now estimates that the nationwide annual deforestation rate is at least 1.5 million hectares, nearly twice the estimate published by the World Bank in 1994. (International Herald Tribune)

Illegal Logging Rips Up Tanzanian Forests
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, August 26, 1999 (ENS) -- Illegal exploitation of forests in Tanzania has reached a point of crisis. The illicit activities, some by government officials, place Tanzania's 33.5 million hectares (129,310 square miles) of forest and woodland increasingly at risk. An estimated 500,000 hectares (19,300 square miles) of Tanzania's pristine forests are lost annually through illegal timber trade.

Amazon hatchet job
Monday, June 21, 1999, Environmental News Network: The Brazilian government is planning to effectively gut efforts to protect the Amazon, despite news that the world's largest and most quickly disappearing rainforest is being cleared twice as quickly as previously thought. In response to the fiscal austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund's $41 billion bailout package signed last November, Brazil is planning to zero out between 60 and 90% of its $70 million budget for conservation and environmental programs in the Amazon.

Environmental degradation wears on Pakistan
December 5, 1999, Environmental News Network -- Stress on the environment and on forest cover in particular is amplifying social problems and creating both an ecological and human crisis in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, according to a recent study.

Rivers of the World Mismanaged, Polluted

WASHINGTON, DC, November 29, 1999 (ENS) -- More than half the world's major rivers are going dry or are polluted, the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century warned in a report released today in Washington.

Misuse, waste of water could lead to world-wide water crisis
August 7, 1995, Environmental News Network: The world must stop wasting and misusing water or face ever-sharper challenges to agriculture, industry and health in water-short regions, according to the World Bank. Some 80 nations holding 40% of the world's population now experience water shortages, according to the Bank.

Water experts call for Blue Revolution
ENN August 27, 1998 -- By the year 2025, 35% of the world's projected population of 8 billion people will face water shortages, according to a university report. The authors of the report, from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, concede, however, that "it may already be too late for some water-short countries with rapid population growth to avoid a crisis."

Growing Population Faces Shrinking Water Supply
WASHINGTON, DC, July 20, 1999 (ENS) -- Increasing water shortages may lead to global hunger, civil unrest and even war, according to Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and senior fellow with the Worldwatch Institute. The number of people living in water stressed countries is projected to climb from 470 million to 3 billion by 2025, Postel notes. (See the reference.)

Poor pay more -- poor people in the developing world pay on average 12 times more per litre of water than the rich do and it's often contaminated, according to the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century. Poor people pay huge premiums to water vendors -- 60 times more in Jakarta, 83 times more in Karachi, 100 times more in Haiti and Mauritania. 1.2 billion people around the world lack access to safe water, and 3.4 million of them die each year from water-related diseases.

Monsanto (had) plan to cash in on world water crisis
INDEPENDENT (London) September 26, 1999: Monsanto, the genetically modified food giant, drew up plans to make billions of dollars out of the world's water crisis, confidential company documents reveal. The documents, seen by the Independent on Sunday, identify a "vast economic opportunity" for the company in impending global shortages of resources such as water. They outline a strategy to use "environmental issues" to "deliver strong financial returns". The business plan adds that two billion people worldwide "still lack reasonable access to safe water" and says that this is likely to rise to 2.5 billion over the next decade. "Initial entry into the water business will create US$400m in annual revenues". The plan foresees the potential to create several billion dollars in annual revenue. Monsanto recently dropped plans to establish water businesses in India and Mexico. A Monsanto spokesman confirmed that the company had made plans to exploit the world water situation but had decided several months ago not to proceed. He did not rule out that the company might return to them in the future.

"Monsanto and water privatization", THE HINDU, Saturday, May 1, 1999, by Vandana Shiva: Over the past few years, Monsanto, a chemical firm, has positioned itself as an agricultural company through control over seed -- the first link in the food chain. Monsanto now wants to control water, the very basis of life. "What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it's really a consolidation of the entire food chain. Since water is as central to food production as seed is, and without water life is not possible, Monsanto is now trying to establish its control over water," said Robert Farley of Monsanto. "Monsanto plans to launch a new water business, starting with India and Mexico since both these countries are facing water shortages." Privatization and commodification of water are a threat to the right to life. Water is a commons and must be managed as a commons. It cannot be controlled and sold by a life sciences corporation that peddles in death.

-- The average 15,000 cubic metres of water needed to irrigate one hectare of high-yielding modern rice is enough for 100 nomads and 450 cattle for three years, or 100 rural families for three years, or 100 urban families for two years. The same amount can supply 100 luxury hotel guests for just 55 days. (UN Food and Agriculture Organization -- FAO.)

Trees, soil and water
In the news
Not in the news
References and resources
Trees for deserts: HDRA
Trees and forests -- resources for schools

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