Posts by Rosette Zarzar

Mount Kilimanjaro: Photographs by Christian Pfeil

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Mount Kilimanjaro: Photographs by Christian Pfeil

Spread the News:ShareChristian Pfeil is an independent film producer and director who works mainly in Berlin, Germany. After finishing his studies in photography, his passion for film grew. His background in digital filmmaking allows him to transport his viewers and share stories through captive images. When asked why he chose this specific region in Africa for his photographs, Pfeil told GlacierHub that he was shooting a spot for IFAW in Kenya, and since he “loves nature and the animals, especially in that particular area,” he went for some more safari trips, taking a couple of thousand shots with his still camera. Pfeil’s work has received awards from the New York Film Festival, the United Nations, Cannes Lions, and other venues. In 2012, Pfeil founded EPICMAN Production, a Berlin based film production company. During his trip, Pfeil also took stunning photographs of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa known for its breathtaking glaciers and ice fields. Pfeil’s favorite part of his travels was Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, he told GlacierHub. “Seeing and experiencing these breathtaking animals in action” and “being part of this stunning landscape” impressed him like no other place he has been. Click here to see more photos from Christian Pfeil’s trip to Africa.               Spread the...

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Different Views of a World Heritage Site in China

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Different Views of a World Heritage Site in China

Spread the News:ShareOn July 12, 2017, after careful consideration of China’s nomination, UNESCO declared the Qinghai Hoh Xil region in Western China a World Heritage Site. The IUCN, a major international conservation body, recognized the strengths of this nomination but raised two concerns— first, threats from development, and second, failure to engage with local communities and cultural values— also echoed by other groups, including the NGO World Heritage Watch. UNESCO defines a world heritage site as a cultural and/or natural site, area, or structure recognized as being of outstanding international importance and, therefore, deserving special protection. In order to become a World Heritage Site, there is a four step process that must be followed. First, a country must create a tentative list of important natural and cultural heritage spots that it wishes to nominate. Second, a state party decides when they want to present the nomination. The nomination is then sent to the World Heritage Site committee, which, if they approve it, sends it to the advisory bodies for evaluation. The three advisory bodies chosen by the World Heritage Convention evaluate the sites. Finally, the World Heritage Committee makes the final decision on the site’s inscription. The Qinghai Hoh Xil region, designated a natural world heritage site, lies in the north-eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in China. The plateau is the largest and highest plateau in the world, with alpine mountains reaching more than 4,500 meters above sea level and diverse ecosystems, including grasslands, scrublands, glaciers, and tundras. Its unique topography of alpine mountains and steppe systems, and climatic conditions, allow for a multitude of species and diverse plants to thrive. More than one third of the plant species and all herbivorous mammals are indigenous to the area. The heritage site nomination was part of an effort to protect the chiru species, Pantholops hodgsonii to scientists, tsö in Tibetan, commonly known as the Tibetan antelope, according to Chinese officials. The plateau’s glaciers are an important source of freshwater in the wetland system of lakes and rivers, making up a total area of 180,000 hectares. Due to rising temperatures, about 15 percent of the plateau’s glacial area, about 8,000 square kilometers since 1980, has retreated in the past half-century, according to a Chinese government-related study. Climate change effects would likely result in the destruction of the Tibetan antelope’s habitat, as well as other plant and animal species in the area. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species states that the chiru is near-threatened because the population size can be maintained with higher levels of protection and controls on trade and manufacturing from its fur. The local Tibetan herders protect the antelopes from hunters by patrolling the area, with little equipment or money. During the evaluation of the Qinghai Hoh Xil region as a World Heritage Site, members of the local population expressed concern about the possibility of being displaced or resettled as a result of site’s new status. The IUCN report states that “it is imperative that questions of rights, access and traditional use are addressed rigorously and carefully by the State Party, and the World Heritage nomination must not be used to justify any deprivation of traditional land use rights of the concerned communities.” The report suggests that local herding communities should be consulted and involved in governing the land. It notes, as well, that the Qinghai Hoh Xil region contains many cultural and spiritual sites valued by its people, and it should be properly recognized. The Chinese government has affirmed its plan to guarantee the integrity of the region. Han Jianhua, the Vice-Governor of Qinghai Province, in which the site...

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2017 Equator Prize Awarded to Pakistan NGO

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

2017 Equator Prize Awarded to Pakistan NGO

Spread the News:ShareThis year, the 2017 Equator Prize recognizing local conservation and sustainability initiatives was awarded to the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO), marking the first time an organization from Pakistan has earned this biennial award. The Equator Prize, launched by the United Nation’s Equator Initiative in 2002, showcases community efforts to relieve poverty through conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. BWCDO, a Pakistan NGO located in the Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, aims to protect snow leopards (and other wildlife) in ways that support local development by providing economic incentives to farmers, including insurance schemes and compensation, to combat human-snow leopard conflicts. Shafqat Hussain founded Project Snow Leopard in 1999 to conserve the snow leopard and wildlife population in the region by including local communities. Since 2006, Project Snow Leopard has been incorporated into BWCDO, with Hussain continuing to serve as an advisor to the organization, and currently operates in 17 villages in northern Pakistan. Additionally, BWCDO recently launched an education program in Pakistan to raise awareness and encourage local youth, including girls, to participate in conservation and development initiatives. One example of the NGO’s ongoing efforts is International Snow Leopard Day in Gilgit-Baltistan, which began in November 2015. BWCDO finances its operations by charging farmers annually a premium per head of livestock. However, most of the financing comes from selling snow leopard trekking expeditions through commercial tour operators. BWCDO and a village management committee promote these ecotourism activities in order to supplement farmers’ income, creating economic incentives for farmers not to harm the snow leopards. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), snow leopards are endangered. It is difficult to address and fund the protection of snow leopards when the herders in the area are poor and lack adequate resources to counter negative consequences of snow leopard activity. BWCDO’s goal is to address both of these obstacles. In northern Pakistan, local farmers make an average annual income per capita of $300. Therefore, an attack by a snow leopard on a farmer’s livestock threatens the entire livelihood of that farmer who already lives in extreme poverty. Occasionally, farmers have killed snow leopards after their herds were attacked, increasing the threat of the snow leopard’s extinction. The organization has further countered the economic losses caused by snow leopard attacks by assisting communities with predator-proof fencing and training on improved herding techniques. In addition to these initiatives, the abundance of glaciers in the region have helped to maintain rivers and wetlands essential to the wild antelope and sheep that snow leopards eat. However, global warming, deforestation, over hunting and logging in the area further threaten the snow leopards and jeopardize the livelihoods of the local people in northern Pakistan. If the degradation of environmental conditions continues unchecked in the region, an increase in flash floods, species extinction, pest attacks, and glacial melting is expected, placing the surrounding communities at greater risk for displacement, poverty, destruction of water bank infrastructures, and other problems. Increased glacial melting will also leave a third of the snow leopards’ habitats unsuitable and disrupt the migratory routes of other species. For example, if temperatures increase, then the tree line will move higher up the mountains, altering the plant species that can grow and making the habitat less appealing to the snow leopards’ prey. In an interview with Babar Khan, a Senior Conservation Manager at WWF- Pakistan, told GlacierHub that “in some places, particularly on shared habitats, [changing climatic conditions] has increased the negative interactions between human and the carnivores, which has ultimately led to retaliatory killing of top predators like snow leopards,...

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Roundup: Seals, Flood Mitigation, and Freezing Levels

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Seals, Flood Mitigation, and Freezing Levels

Spread the News:ShareSeal Whiskers Detect Ecosystem Change From Polar Biology: “Warm Atlantic water in west Spitsbergen have led to an influx of more fish species. The most abundant marine mammal species in these fjords is the ringed seal. In this study, we used isotopic data from whiskers of two cohorts of adult ringed seals to determine whether signals of ecosystem changes were detectable in this top marine predator.” Find out more about ringed seals here.   Flood Mitigation Strategies in Pakistan From Natural Hazards: “The frequency and severity of flood events have been increased and have affected the livelihood and well-being of millions of people in Pakistan. Effective mitigation policies require an understanding of the impacts and local responses to extreme events, which is limited in Pakistan. This study revealed the adaptation measures adopted in Pakistan, and that the local policies on disaster management need to be improved to address the barriers to the adoption of advanced level adaptation measures.” Find out more about flood risk mitigation in Pakistan here.   Rising Freezing Levels in Tropical Andes From AGU Publications: “The mass balance of tropical glaciers in Peru is highly sensitive to a rise in the freezing level height (FLH). Knowledge of future changes in the FLH is crucial to estimating changes in glacier extents. Glaciers may continue shrinking considerably, and the consequences of vanishing glaciers are especially severe where people have only limited capacity to adapt to changes in the water availability due to, for instance, lack of financial resources.” Find out more about freezing levels in Peru here.   Spread the...

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A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, News, Tourism | 0 comments

A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Spread the News:ShareGlacier water’s remarkable range of uses has just been expanded in a new direction: whiskey production. The Glacier Distilling Company, a locally-owned distillery located in Coram, Montana, next to Glacier National Park, uses glacier water in the production of their craft whiskeys. The distillery uses pure glacial water from the Northern Rockies and locally grown grains to produce an alpine whiskey that brings out the local flavors of the distillery’s surroundings. The company was founded in 2011 and has been steadily growing, with their production doubling each year. The distillery’s success has been attributed to their passion to produce the highest quality of whiskey. The genesis of alpine whiskey was during the cold winter of 2009-10 when Nicholas Lee, founder of Glacier Distilling, and a group of his friends, were convening around a fire in North Fork, Montana. As they were sipping on whiskey, the group began debating how they would get whiskey if faced with Armageddon. The simple answer – make it themselves. Glacier Distilling’s first product was an un-aged white whiskey called Glacier Dew. Lee was inspired by a story of a woman named Josephine Doody who built her own moonshine business in Glacier National Park in the 1920’s, straight through Prohibition. Lee, originally from North Carolina, was drawn by the allure of making homemade spirits. “We need to be self sufficient out here just in case!” Lee said in an interview with NBC Montana. As Lee’s business grew, the company’s liquor collection also expanded to 19 different products, including gin, vodka, brandies, absinthe and other liqueurs. Glacier Distilling is just six miles away from Glacier National Park, which hit a record breaking 2.36 million visitors in 2016. The park’s popularity attracts tourists and locals to the Coram area and the distillery. The company’s collection starts with a simple ingredient, glacier water. Lee told GlacierHub that the company “found an old barn with a good well on a glacial aquifer with pure, cold water, and started distilling.” The glacier water is later transformed into a multitude of infused liquors such as Glacier County Honey and Flathead Lake Cherries. Why use glacial water to make liquor? “Glacial water is considered to be purer, as it is frozen and then thawed, which removes some contaminants,” said Anthony Caporale, producer of “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking,”a music and comedy show about the history and science of cocktails and spirits, in an interview with GlacierHub. “Water absolutely affects the taste of the liquor, as it makes up 60 percent of what’s in the bottle (the other 40 percent being ethyl alcohol). That’s why distillers are so crazy-protective of their water sources.” But the question remains – how does one make whiskey with glacier water? Glacier Distilling relies on an old-school technique to distill their whiskey – fractional distillation. It’s a multi-step process where ethanol and water are separated due to the difference in boiling points, according to the company’s website. The company starts by mashing and fermenting the grain by cooking 500 lbs. of grain in 200 gallons of water in a mash tank. Later on, the cooled mash is transported into a fermentation tank for about 3-7 days. This allows for the yeast to consume a majority of the sugar, making the mash into a 10-12 percent ABV, alcohol by volume, which is a standard measure of how much alcohol is in a given volume, “distiller’s beer” or “wash.” Once the wash begins boiling, due to the difference in boiling points, alcohol (which boils at 173º F while water at 212º F) will start to boil out...

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