Submitted by alsimeonova96 on Tue, 2006-03-07 11:15
Albena Simeonova mobilized against environmental threats, such as the construction of ill-designed nuclear power plants, and organized a decentralized system of “eco-inspectorates” to empower citizens to address community concerns.Read more »
In Eastern Europe, fledgling democracies are dealing with economies that are in shambles and a desperate need for energy and clean water. Environmental activists in these countries often find themselves being portrayed as obstructionists. Despite illness and opposition, Albena Simeonova has bravely addressed the lack of public involvement in environmental issues in Bulgaria. Trained as a biology teacher, Simeonova worked as a senior ecologist for the city of Botevgrad on environmental issues before the democratic changes in Bulgaria. Simeonova later became the executive director of the Foundation for Ecological Education and Training (FEET), founded by the Bulgarian Green Party in 1991. Campaigning against the construction of nuclear power plants, in 1994 Simeonova organized the first public debate between the proponents and opponents of nuclear power. One of Simeonova's most successful and novel initiatives to date has been the creation of "Ecological Inspectorates" at the local level. Citizens call to report local environmental problems and get a swift, independent response from professionals. Sometimes Simeonova alone responds. Following her lead, municipalities have now organized their own "Eco-Inspectorates," or have provided funding to NGOs to start them. The original four inspectorate programs have grown to 25 and more are being planned. Seeing the need for nationwide coordination amongst environmental NGOs, in 1993 Simeonova persuaded environmental groups in Bulgaria to come together in an association called the Green Parliament. She also has involved citizens of Bulgaria and Romania to address the problems of trans-boundary pollution. As vice president of the Bulgarian Green Party, in 1995 Simeonova organized a dialogue involving members of the Green Parties of Western and Eastern Europe. In 1996 Simeonova co-founded the Bulgarian Green Federation. Though not a lawyer herself, she has written municipal environmental regulations. In 1997 Simeonova helped establish the Green Justice Association, which works together with local authorities and NGOs to create new environmental legislation.
A central figure in deforestation protests with the late Chico Mendes, Marina Silva helped establish a 2-million-hectare reserve managed by traditional communities.
Born in the Brazilian Amazon, Marina Silva spent her childhood making rubber, hunting and fishing to help her father support their large family. At the age of 16, illness brought her to the city. Although she had been illiterate, she soon earned a university degree. She went on to found the independent trade union movement with rubber tapper leader Chico Mendes in the state of Acre. Read more »
Born in the Brazilian Amazon, Marina Silva spent her childhood making rubber, hunting and fishing to help her father support their large family. At the age of 16, illness brought her to the city. Although she had been illiterate, she soon earned a university degree. She went on to found the independent trade union movement with rubber tapper leader Chico Mendes in the state of Acre.
In the early 1980's, Silva became, with Mendes, one of the architects of the empates - peaceful demonstrations by forest-dwelling rubber tappers against wanton deforestation and the expulsion of forest communities from their traditional holdings. During this time Acre was experiencing a dramatic increase in deforestation as well as the invasion of indigenous lands and areas occupied by rubber tappers.
The major mobilizing tactic of the rubber tapping unions, the empates became famous as an example of grassroots resistance to wholesale environmental destruction. Silva led and participated in dozens of these demonstrations which resulted in the protection of both thousands of hectares of tropical forest and the livelihoods of hundreds of rubber tapping families. This movement also led to the idea of establishing sustainable extractive reserves in the rainforest. Undaunted by Mendes' assassination in 1988, Silva continued to push for their creation.
Today Acre's sustainable extractive reserves encompass two million hectares of forest managed by the traditional communities that inhabit them.
Severe health problems, including contamination with heavy metals, have caused Silva to be hospitalized for long periods of time, but fragile health could not stopped her. In 1994, she was the first rubber tapper ever elected to Brazil's federal senate. As a native Amazonian and a populist senator, Silva built support for environmental protection of the reserves as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region.
From 2003 to 2008, Silva served as Brazil's Minister of the Environment. In October 2010, she ran for president of Brazil, and although she did not win the election, she was one of the top three candidates and won enough votes to force a run-off.
"All of our technical and scientific capacity will have to be used to reverse the process of destruction we have created. I am proud to be from Amazônia where we still have a chance to start a sustainable history."
M.C. Mehta single-handedly won numerous landmark judgments from India’s Supreme Court since 1984, including introducing lead-free gasoline to India and reducing the industrial pollution fouling the Ganges and eroding the Taj Mahal.
In early 1984, M.C. Mehta, a public interest attorney, visited the Taj Mahal for the first time. He saw that the famed monument's marble had turned yellow and was pitted as a result of pollutants from nearby industries. This spurred Mehta to file his first environmental case in the Supreme Court of India. Read more »
In early 1984, M.C. Mehta, a public interest attorney, visited the Taj Mahal for the first time. He saw that the famed monument's marble had turned yellow and was pitted as a result of pollutants from nearby industries. This spurred Mehta to file his first environmental case in the Supreme Court of India. The following year, Mehta learned that the Ganges River, considered to be the holiest river in India and used by millions of people every day for bathing and drinking water, caught fire due to industrial effluents in the river. Once again Mehta filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the polluting factories and the scope of the case was broadened to include all the industries and municipalities in the river basin. For years, every Friday, a courtroom has been set aside just for Mehta's cases. In 1993, after a decade of court battles and threats from factory owners, the Supreme Court ordered 212 small factories surrounding the Taj Mahal to close because they had not installed pollution control devices. Another 300 factories were put on notice to do the same. While the Ganges cases continue to be heard every week, 5,000 factories along the river were directed to install pollution control devices and 300 factories were closed. Approximately 250 towns and cities in the Ganges Basin have been ordered to set up sewage treatment plants. Mehta has won additional precedent-setting suits against industries which generate hazardous waste and succeeded in obtaining a court order to make lead-free gasoline available. He has also been working to ban intensive shrimp farming and other damaging activities along India's 7,000 kilometer coast. Mehta has succeeded in getting new environmental policies initiated and has brought environmental protection into India's constitutional framework. He has almost singlehandedly obtained about 40 landmark judgements and numerous orders from the Supreme Court against polluters, a record that may be unequaled by any other environmental lawyer in the world.
"I am not against anyone at any time, as I am often perceived to be. I am just for the environment at all times."
Submitted by edbustillos96 on Mon, 2006-03-06 11:19
Undeterred by local drug lords, Edwin Bustillos blocked logging in the Sierra Madre despite violent attempts on his life and founded the Advisory Council of the Sierra Madre to preserve the ecosystems that are home to the Tarahumara and Tepehuan communities.Read more »
The Sierra Madre Occidental in Northern Mexico extends for over 1,000 miles and is the most biologically diverse ecosystem in North America. The Sierra Madres' isolation and deeply corrugated topography has attracted drug traffickers and illegal logging operations. Only two percent of the region's old growth forests remain.
Undaunted by the violent climate generated by the drug trade, Edwin Bustillos (d. 2003), an agricultural engineer, was determined to create a 1.3 million acre biosphere reserve in the Sierra Madre to protect both its highly endangered ecosystems and 12 native Tarahumara and Tepehuan communities that have lived in the mountains for two thousand years. To accomplish this Bustillos, a native of the Sierra Madre, founded a human rights and environmental organization called CASMAC (Advisory Council of the Sierra Madre) in 1992. Thanks to the work of Bustillos and CASMAC, two indigenous old growth forest reserves were officially declared by surrounding communities. CASMAC helped developed proposals from 10 other communities to integrate all or part of their forests into the Biosphere reserve as well.
Bustillos paid a high price for his commitment to the Sierra. He survived three attempts on his life and sustained severe back and head injuries incurred in the attacks.
Despite the odds, Bustillos and CASMAC helped stop two illegal logging operations and worked to protect the land rights of over 300 Tarahumara families. Although a very small organization, CASMAC and Bustillos were also instrumental in developing a landmark constitutional proposal for indigenous rights in the state of Chihuahua, which nearly became law before being defeated by a newly elected congress in 1996.
CASMAC proceeded to change strategies for defense of indigenous rights by embarking in ecologically friendly and culturally appropriate economic alternatives to drug production and logging. CASMAC, with its U.S. partner, the Sierra Madre Alliance, developed a permaculture training program and a native craft program. Organic paper production and a project to develop non-timber forest products such as medicinal plants began in the fall of 1998. CASMAC further enabled native communities with a leadership training program, a radio communications network and a program for training and certifying indigenous forest inspectors. CASMAC continues to research community problems and take legal action on behalf of communal native forests and lands.
"Those who live in harmony with their surroundings live with intelligence."
Submitted by biballantine96 on Mon, 2006-03-06 10:24
Bill Ballantine established unprecedented “no-take” marine reserves in New Zealand and promoted the concept internationally to protect vital resources that are quietly but quickly being depleted around the world.
A marine biologist and grassroots activist, Bill Ballantine successfully promoted the establishment of "no-take" marine reserves in New Zealand and internationally. These unprecedented reserves are widely considered to be a critical means of protecting marine resources which are quickly being depleted around the globe. Read more »
A marine biologist and grassroots activist, Bill Ballantine successfully promoted the establishment of "no-take" marine reserves in New Zealand and internationally. These unprecedented reserves are widely considered to be a critical means of protecting marine resources which are quickly being depleted around the globe.
Ballantine, then a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory, recognized the critical need for marine reserves early in his career. His goal was to set aside areas in the sea where habitat and marine life would be left natural and totally undisturbed by people.
A six-year fight, in which Ballantine was very active, was needed to enact New Zealand's Marine Reserve Act in 1971. This enabled the setting aside of parts of the sea for non-exploitative purposes. Overcoming objections from parochial interests by educating the general public about marine issues, the first marine reserve was established near the Leigh Marine Laboratory in 1977. This was one of the first marine "no-take" reserves in the world. No fishing, extractions, construction, or discharge are allowed in such a reserve.
As Ballantine continued to advocate the creation of additional reserves, acceptance of this novel idea gradually grew. The Leigh Marine Reserve proved so popular and full of abundant marine life that a second one was established in 1981. There are now several reserves in New Zealand, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy and study the sea's natural processes, with more proposals being considered all the time.
Ballantine has exported this innovative concept from New Zealand to other countries and is contributed to the development of new marine conservation and fisheries management paradigms around the world. Many scientists view "no-take" marine reserves as the only way to save the world's threatened marine ecosystems.
"One day it will be a given that fishing the entire ocean was damn silly."
The only journalist in Uganda reporting on environmental issues, Ndyakira Amooti exposed abuses at great risk, including illegal mining and wildlife smuggling in East Africa, which led to the creation of several national parks.Read more »
Once known as "the Pearl of Africa" because of its magnificent concentration and variety of wildlife, Uganda was plagued by acute political and civil instability during and well after Idi Amin's regime of the 1970s. Countless human atrocities occurred, wildlife was slaughtered and natural resources were pillaged. Since 1986, Uganda, unlike the majority of countries on the African continent, has enjoyed a free press. A journalist with The New Vision in Kampala, Ndyakira Amooti (d. 1999) was the sole reporter addressing environmental issues in his country. Amooti has used this respected paper as a platform to tackle public ignorance about the finite supply of the country's rich natural resources. Through a combination of feature stories and exposés, Amooti has worked tirelessly to raise the public's environmental consciousness. In the process Amooti has uncovered many cases of wrongdoing and his stories have spurred the government to take direct action. While reporting on the upland forests of Bwindi, home to a group of rare mountain gorillas, one of the world's most endangered species, Amooti discovered illegal mining, poaching and tree-cutting. Amooti's exposé led the Uganda Parliament to change Bwindi from a forest reserve to a national park. When Uganda suddenly became a major transshipment point for wildlife smugglers, Amooti alerted Ugandans to the problem. In September 1994, he helped two American undercover wildlife agents mount a sting operation at Entebbe airport. Putting himself at great personal risk, Amooti exposed the smuggling of endangered chimpanzees and African Great Grey parrots - both endangered species protected by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) - by airport personnel, game officers and businessmen. Ugandans became very concerned about wildlife trafficking and as a result authorities have been catching a higher proportion of smugglers. Amooti continues to be a watchdog. In 1997 he fought off a plan to spray Lake Victoria without an environmental impact assessment. More recently he averted government action to degazette a unique forest for use by industry. He also has completed a series of environmental books for young people.
"Only when people are informed will they be aware, only when they are aware will they take action, and only when they take action will species and the environment be saved. "