Lake Urmia

Catastrophes and Cures

This week on Terra Informa, we’re bouncing across Canada and around the world. We’re taking a trip across Canada with WWOOFer David Laing to learn about his experiences volunteering on organic farms. We’re also heading over to Iran to learn about the slow death of the vital Lake Urmia and what it means for the region. Also, Dr. Jessamyn Manson of the University of Alberta sheds some light on why bee populations face such an intense population decline.

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bees

Globally, bees have been facing a massive dieoff. Scientists haven’t yet been able to pin down the exact cause.

WWOOFing in Canada

As some viewers may recall, Terra Informa’s Miro Radovic sat down with a young Canadian who WWOOFed in Denmark. To gain further insight into opportunities closer to home he sat down with another WWOOFer in Canada, David Laing.
The Buzz About the Bees

The good news is people are starting to pay attention to the declining bee populations. The bad news is that the severe decline of these essential pollinators is a dynamic issues that researchers are still trying to untangle.  The buzz is that pesticides might play a large role in the bee death seen around the world in the past few years.  Terra Informa’s Jessica Kozlowski speaks with Dr. Jessamyn Manson, a professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta educated in bumblebees, pollinator-plant interactions, and nectar chemistry.  Dr. Manson gives her professional opinion on just what factors could be behind the declining bee populations.  Also, she gives helpful insight into the issue of pesticide bans.  No situation is without hope though, as Dr. Manson gives many helpful tips for Canadians on how they can assist their local bee populations to be healthy and happy.

Iran’s Lake Urmia

Lake Urmia is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. Located in Iran, between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, it is a breeding ground for flamingos and one of the largest habitats of a salt-water shrimp. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, and a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It plays a crucial role in the economic, ecological and social health of the region. Currently, the lake is in danger of drying up. More than just an environmental problem, the deterioration of the lake could impact the 13 million inhabitants of the region. Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon talks to some members of Azerbaijanji communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to hear their concerns.

More on this story: Campaign to Save Lake UrmiaLake Urmia appeal by the Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP)

What’s Happening

The Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton is organising their Environment Week Celebration. They’re hosting an event on Saturday, June 1st between noon and 4pm, to help people learn how to lessen their impact on the environment. This would be a great learning experience as fun activity for kids and adults alike! You can purchase tickets online at muttarttickets.edmonton.ca or at the door.

More information on where they are located and other events taking place at the Muttart, visit www.edmonton.ca/Muttart.

Cities that develop food and urban agriculture policies also establish food councils. Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Kamloops and Calgary are good Canadian examples. This year, Edmonton will make that list too! The Edmonton Food Council’s role as a committee of the Administration is to, “advise on matters of food and urban agriculture and to take an active role in supporting the implementation of the Strategy.” Providing advice, undertaking research and evaluation, coordination, engagement and education will be the core jobs on the Edmonton Food Council. Once established, meetings are expected to be held monthly and will be open to the public. All are welcome to attend.

To nominate someone or yourself as a potential member of the Edmonton Food Council, please review the terms of reference, complete the nomination form and submit it to hani.quan@edmonton.ca by June 10, 2013 and for more information, visit www.edmonton.ca

The Canada Green Building Council’s National Conference and Expo is taking place in Vancouver from June 4-6. As Canada’s largest green building event each year, the CaGBC National Conference boasts expert content and speakers, along with a 100+ booth expo floor and networking events and attracting delegates from across the building industry and the country.

This year’s theme is Building Lasting Change, focusing on how buildings and communities should be approached and planned with sustainable longevity. This theme will be addressed through a strong line-up of over 90 expert speakers, with sessions organized into five comprehensive streams, as well as a Master Speaker Series. In addition to main conference sessions, participants can also attend one of five pre-Conference mobile workshops  on June 4, which will highlight some of Vancouver’s most inspiring sustainable sites.

To learn more about the expo, visit www.cagbc.org

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Diana McQueen and Slow Death of Lake Urmia

This week on the show, we investigate land in Alberta and water overseas. We speak to Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen about the impacts of the new Lower Athabasca Regional Plan on the area’s land and people. Then we speak to members of Azerbaijani communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to find out why they’re moved by the slow death of Iran’s Lake Urmia. As always, we wrap our stories around the week’s top environmental news and events.

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Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen speaks from a podium

Alberta’s Environment Minister spoke to Terra Informa about the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan’s impacts on First Nations, wetlands, and oil sands projects. Photo Credit: PremierofAlberta

Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen on Lower Athabasca land use plan

The Lower Athabasca region is ground zero for Alberta’s oil sands. Huge tracts of land have been consumed by mining pits and tailings ponds. For years, industry, First Nations, and environmental groups have been asking the province to clear the air on its long-term plans for how the land there should be used, so when the Alberta government released its land use plan for the Lower Athabasca in August, everyone from Syncrude to wetlands ecologists were watching. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips asked Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen will mean for the area’s land and people. We reached her by phone in Drayton Valley.

More on this story: Vue Weekly, The Tyee, The Globe and Mail, Government of Alberta

Featured Music: Lay Me Down by Zed Hume

The Slow Death of Lake Urmia

Lake Urmia is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. Located in Iran, between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, it is a breeding ground for flamingos and one of the largest habitats of a salt-water shrimp. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, and a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It plays a crucial role in the economic, ecological and social health of the region. Currently, the lake is in danger of drying up. More than just an environmental problem, the deterioration of the lake could impact the 13 million inhabitants of the region. From our archives, Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon spoke to some members of Azerbaijani communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to hear their concerns.

More on this story: Campaign to Save Lake UrmiaLake Urmia appeal by the Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP)

News

New Life in Alberta’s Richardson Forest

Life has returned to the site of the Richardson wildfire that burned north of Fort McMurray in May of 2011. Now, just one year after the fire, jack pines can be found springing up between the black and burned remains of the backcountry’s boreal forest.

More on this story: Edmonton Journal, Fort McMurray Today, Global Edmonton

Tahltans Set Up Roadblock To Oppose Red Chris Mine

Members of the Tahltan Nation are concerned about the impacts that the Red Chris mine would have to their traditional territories, located in northern British Columbia, south of Dease Lake. They have set up a road block on Highway 37 and will be handing out information to passers-by in order to educate people about the critical issues the Tahltan Nation is facing.

More on this story: Intercontinental Cry, Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Japanese Beetle found in Newfoundland

The Japanese beetle, a lawn and garden pest, has been discovered in St. John’s and Little Rapids Newfoundland. The insect, which can be identified by its metallic green color, wreaks havoc on home gardens by feeding on fruits, foliage, and even grass roots in its larval state.

More on this story: The Telegram, CBC Newfoundland, Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador

Yanomami community feared dead

An entire community of Yanomami Indigenous people in the Venezuelan state Amazonas is feared dead, a result of an alleged massacre by gold miners. Only 3 survivors have been accounted for, of a community of 80 people.

More on this story: Intercontinental Cry, Associated Foreign Press

Yukon Peel Watershed Staking Ban Extended

The ban on mineral staking in the Yukon’s Peel River watershed has been extended until May of 2013. The territory’s environment minister, Currie Dixon, told the Whitehorse Daily Star that the government would like to see a land use plan in place before the extension expires.

More on this story: Whitehorse Daily Star, CBC News North, Peel Watershed Planning Commission

Athabasca Chipewyan Preparing for Jackpine Mine Hearings

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is preparing for the Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings, which will begin October 29th in Fort MacMurray, Alberta. The First Nation is opposing the project and is concerned about how the Jackpine Mine will impact and infringe their rights.

More on this story: First Nations Perspective (Press Release)

New Enbridge Pipeline Approved in Alberta

The Energy Resources Conservation Board has approved an application by Enbridge to construct and operate two pump stations and a pipeline that would transport bitumen from Fort MacMurray to Sherwood Park, Alberta. The proposed pipeline route is 385 km long and is proposed to carry 400 000 barrels per day of undiluted bitumen.

More on this story: Edmonton Journal, ERCB

BC Unitarian Church Dumps Enbridge Stocks

A Unitarian church in Vancouver has divested its Enbridge stocks and is urging its 400 members to do the same. The chair of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s Environmental Committee says the church has opposed fossil fuel use since 1993 due to the risk of increasing global warming.

More on this story: Metro, The Vancouver Courier

What’s Happening

First off, on Friday September 21, an event called “She Speaks: Indigenous Women Speak Out Against the Tar Sands” will take place at the Aboriginal Friendship Center at 1607 East Hastings St (corner Commercial) in Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories. Doors will open at 5:30pm and the evening will feature dinner and a line up of speakers including: Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a Sliammon Nation youth, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, the Communications Coordinator for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Suzanne Dhaliwal is the co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network, and Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta and working with Greenpeace as a tar sands climate & energy campaigner. The event is free and childcare will be provided.

More on this story: Indigenous Environmental Network

Coming up next month, PowerShift 2012 will take place in Ottawa, on Algonquin territories.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. PowerShift 2012 is a youth-led conference seeking to tackle the root causes of climate change head on, end fossil fuel subsidies in Canada, and empower youth to build just and sustainable communities from the ground up. PowerShift will be held from October 26-29 in Ottawa. Join organizations like the Ecology Action Centre, 350.org, CLASSE, and the Canadian Federation of Student in the movement for climate justice.

Anyone interested in attending can go online and register now!

More on this story: PowerShift

The 5th Annual Vancouver Island Traditional Food Conference will be held Sept. 28th and 29th in Port Alberni on Nuu-chah-nulth Territory. The conference is hosted by Tseshaht First Nation, Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Indigenous Foods Network and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. The conference is open to all and will feature a look at the sustainability of traditional foods.

More on this story: Ha-Shilth-Sa

The Slow Death of Lake Urmia

Today Terra Informa leaves the comfort of home for a look at some environmental issues from overseas. We begin by talking to members of the Azerbaijani community about the decline of Lake Urmia in Iran. The lake is home to more than 200 species of birds, and of critical importance to local people, but its water is quickly retreating. And if it disappears, the worst is yet to come. We talk to organizations that are working to save the lake about what’s happening, and what can be done to reverse the trend. In the second half of the show, we take a trip to the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania where we talk to an American researcher who is studying the region’s bats. She tells us about the area’s incredible biodiversity and the role of bats in the ecosystem. And as always, we start things off with a run down of the week’s environmental news headlines.

Download this week’s show.

Salt crystals growing on the shore of Lake Urmia in Iran. Photo by Ehsan Mahdiyan.

Iran’s Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. Located in Iran, between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, it is a breeding ground for flamingos and one of the largest habitats of a salt-water shrimp. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, and a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It plays a crucial role in the economic, ecological and social health of the region. Currently, the lake is in danger of drying up. More than just an environmental problem, the deterioration of the lake could impact the 13 million inhabitants of the region. Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon talks to some members of Azerbaijanji communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to hear their concerns.

More on this story: Campaign to Save Lake Urmia, Lake Urmia appeal by the Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP)

The Biodiversity of Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains
Some of the most biodiverse places on the planet are the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. To get a sense of the value of these forests, Terra Informa made a visit to Tanzania, in East Africa. Here we found one scientist who spends her time studying the inner workings of the jungle. Carrie Seltzer is a PhD student from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our correspondent followed Carrie on a night walk into the forest in search of bats and some wisdom on biodiversity. David Kaczan filed this report from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

News Headlines
On the west coast, public consultations on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline have begun. In Kitimat, locals voiced strong opposition to the project. At the same time, the federal government was being accused of trying to push through approval of the project. The day before hearings began, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver wrote in an open letter that, environmental and other radical groups “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” Both he and Prime Minister Harper raised concerns that foreign groups were funding opposition to the project.

More on this story: CBC News (1), CBC News (2), CTV News, Globe and Mail

On Saturday, over 100 people gathered in Halifax to protest against hydraulic fracking. The rally was part of a provincial day of action against the controversial oil and gas extraction technique. Speakers from Occupy Nova Scotia and a wide range of environmental groups were on hand, calling for tougher regulations on the petroleum industry. Some 250 km to the east, another group of people gathered at the Canso Causeway which links Cape Breton to the mainland. They were voicing their opposition to exploratory drilling that has been approved for Lake Ainslie. They worry that while fracking has not yet been authorized for the lake, it may only be a matter of time.

More on this story: Halifax Media Co-op, Chronicle Herald, Cape Breton Post, CBC News

A team of Canadian scientists say they’ve discovered the reason for sharp declines in two species of boreal ducks. Over the past 30 years, populations of scaups have dropped by 40% and scoters have fallen by 60%. The scientists found that global warming has resulted in spring arriving in the boreal forest 11 days earlier than it did in the 1970s. The ducks time their migrations precisely so that they reach their summer habitat as insects are emerging, but now they’re arriving too late. The loss of food means that the ducks are producing fewer young. Not all ducks are affected though. Some species, like the mallard, are able to adapt the timing of their migrations to the changing climate.

More on this story: CBC News, Scientific article in Global Change Biology, UPI.com