MAC: Mines and Communities

Tibetan plateau threatened by "ecological destruction"

Published by MAC on 2011-09-12
Source: Zee News, statement (2011-09-22)

The Tibetan government-in-exile (located in India) claims in a new  report that the province's plateau is "staring at ecological destruction due to extensive mineral extraction, deforestation and unscientific construction of highways and railways by the Chinese".

The government is calling for the region to be declared an "exploitation-free zone" to "benefit both Tibetans and the world community."

Meanwhile, Students for a Free Tibet have launched a sign-on petition, "urging UN representatives, world leaders, and people of conscience everywhere to stand up and help protect Tibetan nomads" (Scroll down to bottom of following articles, in order to support this call).

MAC editorial note:  Chinese firm, Sichuan Hongda, has said it plans to construct a $1.6 bln molybdenum-copper processing plant in Sichuan Province, feedstock for which would be sourced from Tibetan deposits owned by the parent company and Sichuan's  Hanlong Group Co. Ltd.'s Australian assets [Interfax China Metals & Mining, 2 September 2011].

'Tibetan plateau facing environmental degradation'

Zee News

5 September 2011

Dharamsala - The Tibetan plateau is staring at ecological destruction due to extensive mineral extraction, deforestation and unscientific construction of highways and railways by the Chinese in the name of development, the Tibetan government-in-exile here says in a report.

"Human activities are mainly responsible for the destruction of Tibet's ecological balance," said the report titled 'A synthesis of recent science and Tibetan research on climate change'.

According to the report, the temperature increase on the Tibetan plateau is twice the global average, resulting in quicker degradation of permafrost, drastic change on climate pattern and desertification of vast grassland.

"The Chinese authorities blame the Tibetan pastoral nomads (who have preserved the fragile grassland for centuries) for desertification and put forth ill-advised policies that destroy the age-old nomadic way of life," it said.

The report calls for making the plateau an exploitation-free zone which would benefit both Tibetans and the world community. It was released last week by Kalon Tripa or Tibetan prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay.

To protect the Tibetan plateau from certain destruction, the report says there is a need for a water sharing treaty among the countries of the region and of making the Tibetan plateau an exploitation-free international observatory zone.

It recommends "enforcement of environment policies by tying greenhouse gas reduction into the current economic model".

"We hope that this report will serve as a further research tool to the Tibetan community and the Himalayan region," said Tenzin Norbu, head of the environment and development desk of the department of information and international relations, which published the report.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has also expressed concern over the issue.

"Global warming is a major problem that the world is facing today and the Tibetan plateau is already facing its impact," the Nobel Peace Prize winner said at a function in Orissa in January this year.

"The problem is much more serious than it is perceived to be. The glaciers are melting at a faster rate in the Himalayan region and deep inside Tibet. So it is very essential that we address it fast," he added.

According to the Dalai Lama's official website, he has expressed concern over deterioration of the environment in Tibet, the rapid disappearance of animal and plant life and the large-scale deforestation and mining activity at the place of origin of major international rivers.

"In the past, there were big herds of animals to be seen in Tibet, but few remain today. The large-scale deforestation in Tibet is a matter of great sadness. It's not only sad for the local area, which has lost its beauty, but for the local people who now find it hard to collect even enough fuel wood.

"Many of the rivers which flow through large areas of Asia, through Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, rivers such as the Yellow river, Brahmaputra, Yangtse, Salween and Mekong, all originate in Tibet. It's at the places of origin of these rivers that large-scale deforestation and mining are taking place. The pollution of these rivers has a drastic effect on the downstream countries," he said.

"According to Chinese statistics, there are 126 different minerals in Tibet. When these resources were discovered by the Chinese, they were extensively mined without proper environmental safeguards, resulting in devastation of the environment. As a result, deforestation and mining are causing more floods in the lowlands of Tibet," he added.

The Dalai Lama along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.


Kalon Tripa launches a report in Tibetan on Climate Change

Central Tibetan Administration press release

2 September 2011

We are very happy to bring out the Tibetan version of the report: A Synthesis of Recent Science and Tibetan Research on Climate Change. This report contains all aspects of research work done by Chinese, Tibetan and western researchers on the Tibetan plateau. We hope that this report will serve as a further research tool to the Tibetan community and the Himalayan region. The actual English version of the report on climate change was launched on 15th Conference of Parties at Copenhagen, Denmark.

The report contains in-depth research on following four issues;

1. Significance of the Tibetan Plateau: The reference of the Tibetan Plateau as ‘The Third Pole' and ‘The Water Tower of Asia' in recent times is a clear indication of its significance. Tibet's rangeland covers approximately 70% of the Plateau's total area, which helps, sustains wide variety of both domestic and wildlife species. The Tibetan Plateau not only influences the Asian summer monsoon pattern but also releases huge amount of carbon in the atmosphere due to degradation of its large permafrost which further enhances global warming.

2. Impacts on the Tibetan Plateau: The temperature increase on the Tibetan Plateau is twice the global average resulting in quicker degradation of Permafrost, drastic change on climate pattern and desertification of vast grassland. The Chinese authorities blame the Tibetan pastoral nomads (who have preserved the fragile grassland for centuries) for desertification and put forth ill-advised policies that destroy age-old nomadic way of life.

3. Human cause: The unscientific development constructions like highways and railways, extensive mineral extractions, the extensive farming and deforestation during commune system of 1960s on fragile the Tibetan plateau without any ecological concern has resulted serious in the destruction of the Plateau's ecological balance.

4. Recommendations:

Need for a water sharing treaty among the upper and lower riparian countries;
Making of the Tibetan Plateau an exploitation - free international observatory zone which would benefit both Tibetans and world community;
Recognition of Tibetan nomads as the best stewards of the grassland and withdrawal of current policies that force the nomads to settle permanently;
Training and deployment of local Tibetans on environment conservation;
Climate change has made natural disaster increasingly uncertain and setting up of disaster management near volatile area is required;
Enforce environment policies by tying Green House Gas reduction into the current economic model'

For more information contact, Environment and Development Desk
Tenzin Norbu (+919418577509)


Urgent action:- Tibetan nomads are fighting for their lives

Students for a Free Tibet action

22 September 2011

 

For thousands of years Tibetan nomads have lived on the roof of the world, overcoming the extreme environmental conditions while sustaining one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet.

Now, in just a few short years, China wants to end their way of life forever.

The Chinese government is carrying out the single most destructive policy in Tibet since the cultural revolution - forcing more than 2 million Tibetans - a third of the entire population - off their land.

Next week, China's Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. As he prepares to wine and dine with world leaders, Tibetans and their supporters have gathered in front of the UN to expose China's sinister and deliberate plan to destroy Tibetan nomadic communities.

We are calling on UN representatives, world leaders, and people of conscience everywhere to stand up and help protect Tibetan nomads.

China wants to resettle the nomads to clear the way for large scale resource exploitation and to consolidate control over Tibetans - especially their movements. In spite of the serious risks associated with speaking out against the Chinese government, Tibetan nomads are making every effort to resist China's policy of forced relocation.

We can help by raising the alarm on this important issue and advocating their cause with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK Ambassador to the UN.

TAKE ACTION:

Sign a Petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to speak out.
Send a letter to Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the British Ambassador to the UN, alerting him to this issue. Email UK@UN.int or fax: +1 (212) 745-9316.
Copy your letter addressed to Sir Mark Lyall Grant to your Elected Representatives. Let them know that Tibet is important to you.

If you missed our email alert last week about the newly launched Tibetan Nomad Rights website, check it out: http://www.nomadrights.org

Together, we will direct the world's attention to the historic battle to save Tibet's nomads and help protect their right to live on the majestic grasslands of the plateau for generations to come.

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