World Wetlands Day 2018

World Wetlands Day – February 2, 2018
blog by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager

BOT-OK-107.jpgOkavango Delta, Botswana, Africa

What are “wetlands”?

Synonyms: Marsh, fen, bog, pothole, mire, swamp, bottomlands, pond, wet meadows, muskeg, slough, floodplains, river overflow, mudflats, saltmarsh, sea grass beds, estuaries, and mangroves.

Jones_070605_BC_1624.jpgDevelopment on edge of Columbia Wetlands, British Columbia

Worldwide, wetlands regulate floods, filter water, recharge aquifers, provide habitat, store carbon, and inspire photographers & artists.

Jones_111024_LA_8655.jpgCyprus trees in Atchafalaya River Basin Wetlands, Louisiana

Wetlands control rain, snowmelt, and floodwater releases: mitigation that is more effective and less costly than man-made dams. Nearly 2 billion people live with high flood risk – This will increase as wetlands are lost or degraded.

Jones_091004_TZ_2124.jpgFishing boats among invasive water hyacinth in Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Wetlands absorb nitrogen and phosphorous which provides cleaner water downstream for drink water supplies, aquifers and reservoirs.

Jones_091002_TZ_1209.jpgWoman collecting water in Maseru Swamp, Tanzania

Wetlands absorb heat by day and release is at night, moderating local climates.

Jones_111021_LA_2490.jpgRed-earred turtles in Bluebonnet Swamp, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

We all need the clean air, water, and protection from flooding that wetland forests provide. But up to 80% of wetland forests in the US South have disappeared. What are our standing wetland forests worth? Let’s be sure we invest in our wetland forests. (From dogwoodalliance.org)  Worldwide, we must protect our wetlands.

Jones_150817_AZ_5849.jpgSouthern tip of Lake Havasu and incoming Williams River and its wetlands, Arizona

To learn more about World Wetlands day visit http://www.worldwetlandsday.org.

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

 

Glaciers: A Photo Essay

Edit (9/27/17): Since publishing this blog, the Washington Post reported the calving (or splitting) of a key Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier.  The article states, “the single glacier alone contains 1.7 feet of potential global sea level rise and is thought to be in a process of unstable, ongoing retreat.”  To learn more about how climate change contributed to this calving, and what the affects will be, read the article here.

 

“The alarming rate of glacial shrinkage worldwide threatens our current way of life, from biodiversity to tourism, hydropower to clean water supply.” (climatenewsnetwork.net)

During and in between NWNL’s dozens of expeditions to its six case-study watersheds, we have explored the value and current condition of glaciers on three continents, since they are a critical source of freshwater.  NWNL visited the Columbia Icefields of Alberta, Canada in 2007; Argentine glaciers in 2003 and 2005; and Rebman Glacier on the summit of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro in 2003.   We have witnessed the effect of climate change on glaciers. The melting of glaciers will affect  all forms of water resources for human and wildlife communities.  Just as upstream nutrients and pollutants travel downstream, “the loss of mountain ice creates problems for the people who live downstream.” Glacial loss must be thought of as just as important in the climate-change discussion as flooding and drought have become.

 

Jones_030809_TZ_0745Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route. Tanzania, East Africa. (2003)

 

Jones_050402_ARG_0155Hole in ice of Lake Viedma Glacier in South Patagonia’s Glacier National Park, Argentina. (2005)

 

Jones_070609_ALB_2357Sign marking the former edge of the glacier. Columbia Icefields, Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC LVgla 059DA.tifLake Viedma Glacier at Glaciers National Park in Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Canada: Alberta, Columbia Icefields Center Bus Tour, Athabasca GlacierAthabasca Glacier in Columbia Icefields. Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC Azul 004DA.tifGlacier melting and pouring into Blue Lake in the Andes Mountains. Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

 

Happy World Elephant Day!

For 30 years NWNL has studied Kenya’s iconic, charismatic jumbos that create water access for so many other species in the Mara River Basin. What can you do to celebrate and help elephants?
(scroll down for a few ideas 🙂 )

Participate in the #elegram project ———> and tell others to participate too!

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Send an E-Card for World Elephant Day!

Check out the World Elephant Day website for updates and news 🙂

Zambia:  Jeki, elephant ("Loxodonta africana") crossing Zambezi R.
Zambia: Jeki, elephant (“Loxodonta africana”) crossing Zambezi River
Kenya: Maasai (aka Masai) Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, Mara Triangle, Trans Mora aerial (from helicopter), elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River,
Kenya: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River

After all, aren’t clouds just recycled water?

Kenya: Trees clouds landscape
Kenya: Trees clouds landscape
Tanzania:  Zanzibar, Indian Ocean and cumulus cloud, sunset
Tanzania: Zanzibar, Indian Ocean and cumulus cloud, sunset
California: Yosemite National Park, Half Dome at sunset
California: Yosemite National Park, Half Dome at sunset
Tanzania:  Zanzibar, Indian Ocean and local fishing boat
Tanzania: Zanzibar, Indian Ocean and local fishing boat

What’s the WATER CYCLE?

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Happy Friday!

 

EDUCATION IS KEY !

 

2nd Annual ‘Mara Day’ to raise awareness of degradation of Mara River basin ecosystem

On September 15th, stakeholders from Kenya, Tanzania and surrounding communities will come together to celebrate Mara Day to focus on the health of the Mara River. Informative activities and presentations aim to foster discussions on water quality, pollution, deforestation, drought and other environmental and social challenges facing the MRB and its sustainable development.

More than 1.1 million people live in the MRB and a wealth of flora and fauna depend on its resources. It’s no coincidence the event takes place during the famous wildebeest migration in which the perennial Mara River becomes the destination for the world’s largest mammal migration of almost 2 million wildebeest and zebra. For more information about Mara Day: http://allafrica.com/stories/201307261515.html?viewall=1

The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya's highlands to Tanzania's Lake Victoria shores...
The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya’s highlands to Tanzania’s Lake Victoria shores…

But its very critical source, The Mau Forest in Kenya, has been suffering devastation for years as industry – and local people needing wood – have cut down this forest.  The forest’s retention of water during the seasons of heavy rains plays a crucial role to the entire watershed.

The Mara River, fed by waters from the Mau Forest, nurtures iconic plains species that bring lucrative tourism and jobs; commercial and subsistence farmers; fisherman; and the ecosystems of its Lake Victoria terminus.

And perhaps most important, the Mara supplies drinking water to its inhabitants and their livestock, yet it can no longer be guaranteed to be clean, healthy water.

In NWNL’s expedition covering the length of the Mara River and in our interviews with many stakeholders and stewards en route, it became clear that education is the key.  Those who live in the Basin now must learn the upstream-downstream consequences of their water and forest usage, and why it is critical for tomorrow and future tomorrows to adjust their habits and practices to ensure the sustainability of livestock, flora, fauna and their own communities.

View NWNL’s video “The Mau Forest, Source of the Mara River” from the 2009 MRB expedition here.

Funding the Mara River Expedition

Hippos 

For No Water No Life’s first blog, I am diving in with our project’s current challenge: EXPEDITION FUNDING! NWNL’s research, documentation and publications are based on its expeditions to North American and African case-study watersheds. By comparing approaches to freshwater issues and solutions in developed versus developing nations, NWNL distinguishes itself from most other organizations.

Mau Forest 

THE MARA RIVER EXPEDITION: In mid-September, a “lean and mean” NWNL team will head to Kenya and Tanzania to follow the length of the Mara River for one month. An award-winning video photographer and I, as leader and still photographer, will film the devastatingly-low, polluted Mara River. We will document issues from its headwaters in Kenya’s deforested Mau Forest – a critical key to the famine now facing 10 million Kenyans – to its outlet on the polluted Tanzanian shores of Lake Victoria creating “dead zones.” (For details: Mara River Expedition ’09.)

Wildebeest 

WHY $$ NEEDED: NWNL is seeking the final funding needed for travel and production expenses . The expedition products to be covered by $4,000 we still need (can be tax-deductible) and the $15,000 we’ve already received will alert Kenyans, students and conservationists world-wide of the perils facing the Mara River today. The loss of the watershed’s wildlife due to low water will impact fiscal and political stability in the Horn of Africa, a “hot spot” for terrorism. Email me at alison at nowater-nolife.org to discuss donation details.

PROJECT SUCCESSES! With images from 3 expeditions to Ethiopia’s Omo River, NWNL has joined in an international effort to halt upstream dams threatening .5 million stakeholders downstream. After 2 expeditions to the Columbia River Basin, NWNL has promoted US-Canadian trans-boundary research and partnerships. NWNL’s successes are being covered in magazines, its imagery is receiving awards, the project is receiving high praise for its lectures and exhibits.

MARA EXPEDITION SUPPORT: This will be NWNL’s 10th watershed expedition. This expedition has received:

  1. Expedition flags from The Explorers Club and WINGS WorldQuest
  2. Endorsements from International Rivers, Global Information Network, et al
  3. Several generous grants
  4. Hefty in-kind contributions, worth six times the cash raised.

Kenyan conservationists are anxious for NWNL to publicize the degradation of the Mara River, saying international awareness is essential to create an East African political will to protect this critical watershed.

NEXT!!  This expedition WILL happen. Tickets are booked for myself and the videographer – another Alison!   Stay tuned to read upcoming blogs about the Mara that illustrate global fresh-water values, threats and solutions being explored today!