28 August, 2006

GEF Assembly 5 ...

Registration for the GEF Assembly got underway today.
Gigi and I went down early to avoid the queues

Cape Town's International Convention Centre (CTICC) where the GEF Assembly will meet and most of the side events will take place

Banner above registration.

The registration desk before the mad rush

Display of crafts in the foyer of the CTICC

Street banner outside the CTICC - please excuse the alien invasive Cassurina/Beefwood on the left!

At 15h00 an informal reception was held at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
It was a warm sunny day, what we call berg (mountain) wind weather that preceedes a cold front! Tomorrow is going to be cold and rainy in the afternoon - that should surprise many of the delegates after todays perfect spring weather!

What a pitty that not a single member of our department, other than myself, attended this event. The only ones that were there were a few souls that had been roped in as volunteers, standing around handing out 'goodie' bags to the deleates. What a great opportunity to network with very influential international and and national luminaries involved in biodiversity funding. All the senior officials of the national department's international relations and biodiversity management divisions from Pretoria attended. Here we sit with two biodiversity hotspots of international significance in our province and all our .......... resists making career limiting statements .......... Ag shame - its only about biodiversity and ecosystem services!

The 'Silvertree' restaurant where the reception was held.

Some of us decided to walk in the garden in the beautiful spring weather. Nicole Glineur, right, is Programme Manager: Biodiversity of the GEF and Rachael S?? is with the GEF's small grant facility in New York. That's yours truely in the middle - the grey one not the dark brown one, thank you!

William Boshoff's 'Garden of Words III' - On the lawn above the visitor centre a local South African artist, Willem Boshoff, had put up an extremely interesting atistic installation. You can read all about it on the notice above (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

Below are a range of pictures that I took of the installation.

The installation comprises 15 000 'artificial flowers' representing 15 000 endangered species and has been set up in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to bring to the attention of the visitors the plight of the worlds plant biodiversity.

The inspiration comes from the fields of gravestones at Flanders

The red cups represent poppies

The folded handkerchiefs represent sadness and as well as forming petals when pressed into the 'poppies'

Willem posing in front of his installation with Nursery Buttress behind.

The words are species names and localities of endangered plants. You can't really read them, folded as they are into the 'poppies'. This represents the fading of the species. Soon they will just be memories. Eventually they'll be forgotten!

I'm extremely tempted to nip into the garden late one evening and add an extra row of poppies with certain selected names of my own.

Willem Boshoff, the artist discussing his installation with a couple of visitors to Kirstenbosch

GEF Assembly 4 ...

The IISD Reporting service that will report on the GEF have their links page here.

IISD's main 'Linkages' page is here.

27 August, 2006

GEF Assembly 3 ...

On Friday 25 August Gigi and I were invited to a small cocktail function of UNDP staff and some leading South African biodiversity luminaries arranged by Gugu Agha, head of GEF's Communications division.

The function was held at Gugu's appartment in Camps Bay.

Gigi (SANBI, Cape Town), Nik Sekhran (UNDP, Pretoria)

Sally Nittman

Eddie Russell (UNDP, Pretoria), ?, Judy Beaumont (DEAT, Pretoria)

Merle Huntley chatting to Alan Rodgers (UNDP, Nairobi)

Judy Beaumont, ?, Gugu Agha (UNDP, Geneva)

Shame, Gugu was down with a really bad cold.

Nik Sekhran, Brian Huntley (Acting CEO, SA National Biodiversity Institute SANBI) and Nicole Glineur (GEF, Biodiversity Programme Manager, Washington)

Nik Sekhran, Kristal Maze (SANBI, Birector Biodiversity, pretoria) and Nicole Glineur

Phil Desmet and Nick ? (UNDP)

Gigi, Alex Cote (UNDP, Pretoria) and Trevor Sandwith (C.A.P.E., Cape Town)

GEF Assembly 2 ...

See my first post on the 4th GEF Assembly here.
Michelle Garforth has published some useful info here and there is some other useful perspectives here particularly on biosafety projects.

I'm off to register for the Assembly tomorrow and will keep you posted.

23 August, 2006

Biofuels workshop - 15 September ...

The 'Western Cape Task Team for Renewable Fuel' presents a simposium at the University of Stellenbosch on 15 September 2006. The purpose of the simposium is to discuss the key issues relating to the development of a bio-ethanol industry in the Western Cape

For programme, registration forms etc contact:
Wessel Lemmer
> Agricultural Economist
> Department of Agriculture: Western Cape
> Private Bag X1,
> Elsenburg,
> 7607,
> South Africa
> * Tel: + 27 21 808 5193
> * Cell: + 27 21 (0)82 907 3396
> * Fax: + 27 21 808 5210
> * E-mail: wessell@elsenburg.com
> * Web: www.elsenburg.com

22 August, 2006

Directorate Srategic Environmental Management, Strategic Planning Session ...

Mark Gordon addressing the Directorate: Strategic Environmental Management at our Strat Planning meeting.

The placing of this photo on this blog was a demo to Mark that the quickest way for him or the Minister to see what is going on at a site of environmental damage or illegal activity was for someone in the area to photograph the activity and blog it using cell phone connection to the internet. The pics would then be instantly available to anyone who had access to the internet.

Oh, the marvels of instant communication.
I had this picture up within 15 minutes of him quering the issue during the strat planning session!

09 August, 2006

Shutdown of Prudhoe Bay Oilfield - BP, Alaska ...

The oilfield at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska has been shutdown following a failure of the trans-Alaska pipeline and a major oil spill. This seems to be a major environmental incident that has received very little news coverage here in South Africa. Apparently the pipeline is in a very poor state of repair and a large section will need to be replaced, causing a two to three month shutdown of the oilfield and having a significant impact on the price of oil.

For more information see Google News links to stories about the incident.

You can see lots of pictures of the incident here.

07 August, 2006

Revision of Table Mountain National Park Management Plan ...

The TMNP is currently reviewing/developing the TMNP Management Plan.
The three documents (Park management Plan, Conservation Development Framework and Tokai-Cecilia Management Framework) are all interrelated management tools that will guide the management of the Park into the future.

Open days, with a focus on Tokai-Cecilia, will be held for the purpose of presenting these draft documents for public comment:
Date: Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th August 2006 Time: 14h00 to 19h00
Tokai-Cecilia Workshops: 17:00 on both days
Venue: The Main Hall, Chrysalis Academy, Porter School, Tokai

For further information please contact:
Park Management Plan:
Mike Slayen (michaels@sanparks.org)
Chad Cheney (chadc@sanparks.org)
Table Mountain National Park
Tel: 021 – 701 8692
Fax: 021 701 8773

Conservation Development Framework:
Rod Cronwright (rodc@setplan.co.za)
iKapa Enviroplan
Tel: 021-422-1946
Fax: 021-424-3490

Tokai-Cecilia Management Framework:
Sarien Lategan (sarien@geostratics.co.za )
Geostratics CC: Town Planners, Environmental consultants, Research
Tel. 021-8510078
Fax 021-8520966

03 August, 2006

Suggestions for improving vehicle fuel economy ...

... and minimising atmospheric carbon emissions

– Dennis Laidler

As an environmentalist, particularly concerned with climate change, I must admit to ‘getting off’ on minimising my vehicle’s fuel consumption rather than ‘voet in die hoek’ or aggressive driving. Fortunately or unfortunately I spent my formative driving years during the era of extremely severe fuel rationing in the then Rhodesia and later during the South African fuel restrictions of the late 1970’s. As a university student I remember driving a Volkswagen beetle regularly between the then Salisbury and Cape Town at a very strict 80km per hour - whew! Unfortunately the backgrounds to both of these fuel shortages were political. However, today we have other reasons prompting us to pay attention to our vehicle’s fuel consumption. Firstly, every vehicle user should take the issue of minimising their personal contribution to global carbon emissions seriously. Secondly it’s cost. The recent increase in fuel price affects almost every vehicle user, and in my humble opinion we are not going see hydrocarbon fuel prices decrease in future.

This all said, I’ve compiled the following suggestions for saving fuel, minimising your personal carbon emissions and saving you money. To supplement my own thoughts on the issue I did some research on the Internet, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other sites, and was reminded of many tips that had not immediately come to mind. I can’t, of course, claim that any of these ideas are unique or new and I’m sure you are aware of some of them already.

Having two sons that relatively recently obtained their driving licences caused me to refocus on the quality of my own driving style. I have now come to regard my driving time as ‘quiet quality time’ rather than ‘stress time’. As a positive side effect I have found that focusing on minimising my fuel consumption on every trip, even commuting to work, has taken a lot of the aggression out of my driving style.

I hope that you find the suggestions below useful and that they prompt you to reduce your fuel usage and modify your driving style.

Fuel saving suggestions:

1. Plan your trips – the easiest way to save fuel is not to drive your vehicle! If you have to drive plan your vehicle use and try to do as many chores on a single trip as possible. Use a bicycle or your two legs for short trips.

2. If you have to drive take the shortest and/or least traffic congested route possible – the less time you are on the road or idling the engine while going nowhere the better.

3. Don’t idle your car’s engine for more than 1 minute - If you need to idle your vehicle’s engine for a while, just turn the engine off. Contrary to popular belief, having to restart your car isn't worse for your fuel economy if you're going to idle for longer than 1 minute. Don’t use the drive through at your local burger joint. Park your vehicle and turn off the engine!

4. Use your right foot as lightly as possible on the accelerator – The greatest fuel waster while driving is rapid acceleration. From a standstill or when rolling, accelerate GENTLY up to your desired speed and change up to the next higher gear as soon as reasonably possible. Always use the highest reasonable gear for your speed. Generally speaking, the lower the engine revs the more fuel efficiently it is running.

5. If your vehicle has one, display your vehicle’s trip fuel consumption meter every time you drive and you’ll be surprised at the positive impact it has on your driving style and fuel consumption.

6. Use your right foot as lightly as possible on the brakes – If you have to apply the brakes hard at any time while you’re driving, then you are not using your powers of anticipation and your vehicle is wasting fuel. Applying the brakes hard merely converts all that expensively fuelled momentum into heating your car’s brake disks. What a waste! Keep an eye well ahead while you are driving and take your foot off the accelerator AS SOON as it appears that you may have to slow down or stop. Rather apply the brakes gently, and coast slowly up to the obstruction. The traffic lights will turn green again or the obstruction may clear and you can continue without having to waste fuel accelerating from a standstill.

7. Load your vehicle as lightly as possible – Every kilo of weight in your vehicle has to be accelerated and decelerated every time you use your right foot so don’t carry around any unnecessary load.

8. Check your tyre pressures regularly – If your tyres are under-inflated, your vehicle has to work that much harder to spin the wheels. The friction caused by these soft tyres could be significantly increasing your fuel consumption. Not to mention the premature tread wear that will cost you serious money sooner rather than later. If you’d like to test this for yourself just try cycling a bicycle with under inflated tyres compared to one with correctly inflated tyres.

9. Have your vehicle’s wheel alignment checked regularly – Poor wheel alignment not only wears your vehicles tires unnecessarily but adds extra rolling resistance to your vehicle, unnecessarily increasing fuel consumption.

10. Reduce wind resistance – Do you ever go on a long trip and stack luggage on the roof of your vehicle? These bulky items can increase your fuel consumption by up to 5%. Instead of putting your bags straight onto the roof rack, try using an aerodynamic roof box for storage. Hard aerodynamic hard roof box models offer a sleek shaped storage bin that keeps wind resistance to a minimum. You can reduce fuel consumption by completely removing the box and roof rack from your vehicle when you don't need to use it. Even though they are aerodynamic, these roof boxes are only completely drag-proof when they're off the vehicle.

11. Truck/Bakkie/LDV owners – Adding a hard or soft tonneau cover over the load bay of your truck prevents airflow against the tailgate that will give you an immediate 5% to 10% improvement in fuel consumption, to say nothing of the extra security.

12. Have your vehicle serviced and tuned regularly in accordance with the manufacturers directions – The better tuned and lubricated your vehicles engine the better your fuel consumption will be.

13. Use your air conditioner as little as possible – your car’s air conditioner can increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption as much as 10%. Rather open the car windows a little for ventilation, especially at low speeds.

14. On the other hand don’t drive fast with your car windows wide open unnecessarily – open windows will increase your car’s drag, especially at high speed, and increase fuel consumption.

15. Don’t free-wheel downhill with the vehicle out of gear – This urban legend is a popular fuel saver myth. Not only is this ineffective at saving fuel, but it is extremely dangerous. There's no reason to cut-off your acceleration control – coasting with your foot off the accelerator uses the same amount of fuel. And, letting your vehicle free-wheel downhill can generate dangerous speeds.

16. It doesn’t make financial sense to sell your current vehicle merely to replace it with a more fuel economic one – The money saved through fuel economy will not compensate for the cost of the new vehicle. It’s expensive in both money and energy to make and to buy a new vehicle. But when the time comes to replace an old vehicle, you can get a very large reduction in your fuel bill by making an informed choice. Choose a small fuel-efficient vehicle rather than the typical South African ‘pocket rocket’! Luckily in this day and age this doesn’t mean having to forgo quality or luxury. My wife and I have recently replaced her city commuter with a Fiat Panda, European car of the year 2004, 2005 and 2006. Surprisingly this modern fuel-efficient 1200cc (4.6 litres/100km or 50 miles/gallon) vehicle is even available in two 4x4 versions if that is your ‘hot button’!

17. Diesel vehicles are generally 20% more economical than a similar petrol powered vehicle – Diesel should always be the first choice for anyone concerned with fuel economy. Modern diesel engines are also much more powerful and cleaner than those of 10 or 20 years ago but they are more expensive to make so you need to decide if the extra purchase price would be covered by the fuel savings. I found this not to be the case in South Africa for the vehicles in the price range I was considering.

02 August, 2006

Third Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly in Cape Town ...

The Third Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly is being hosted by the Government of South Africa from August 29-30, 2006 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

All the relevant information is at the Assembly's Website

The most interesting document I have discovered is the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) Report on the Broad Scientific and Technical Issues that emerged during the Preceding Phase of the GEF and on Emerging Issus and Gaps

The GEF home page is http://www.thegef.org/

Champion Trees Project ...

Gigi just sent me an interesting link to DWAF's Champion Trees Project

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) initiated a project to identify and protect trees worthy of special protection throughout South Africa. Such projects have been established in several countries, but this is the first of its kind in Africa. Champion trees are trees of exceptional importance that deserves national protection because of their remarkable size, age, aesthetic, cultural, historic or tourism value.

I see there is also info on protected trees here and you can download the latest list of protected trees here as a pdf file.

Clinton Foundation to Work to Reduce Greenhouse Gases ...

See link here

South Africa's Environmental Awareness Campaign appoints CEO ...

"Today, we start building an institution which will primarily seek to encourage all of us to further increase our appreciation for the role of the environment in growing our economy" said Onkgopotse JJ Tabane as he announced JP Louw as the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of INDALO YETHU, South Africa's national environmental awareness campaign.

"Mr Louw emerges from a successful tenure as head of communications in the department of environmental affairs and tourism. He has earned an admirable reputation throughout the political terms of both Ministers Valli Moosa and Marthinus van Schalkwyk. It therefore came to us as an opportunity not to be missed when he applied for the post of Chief Executive Officer." Tabane further added that Louw comes as a seasoned communicator, with an impeccable organizational development experience and good exposure and understanding of environmental deliberations at both a local and international platform.

Expressing his appreciation about his selection to the post of Chief Executive Officer, Louw committed himself to work with his board members, other partner organizations and the general public in raising consciousness about the interrelated nature of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

"The challenge is to ensure that whilst we host a successful 2010 Soccer World Cup, we realize the ideals of ASGISA and overall transform our society, we do so in a manner that will ensure that benefits are accrued to us today as well as to our future generations" said Louw. "Our intentions are to put all necessary systems in place and conduct relevant consultations between this period and the end of the year" further added Louw. "Come 2007 and we should be in the mode of all systems rolling".

INDALO YETHU is a national environmental awareness campaign and is also a legacy project of the World Summit on Sustainable Development legacy.

For further info contact:
JP Louw
082 569 3340
visit us at www.indaloyethu.co.za

Presentation - Long-term greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios for SA ...

The South African Cabinet has approved and initiated the development of a greenhouse gas mitigation strategy for South Africa, utilising scenario building and options generating processes.

The process will be overseen by DEAT, who have asked ERC to manage the project.
Harald Winkler will give a short presentation on this new work.

Topic: Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios
Date: Friday, 4 August 2006
Time: 12:30 - 13:30
Venue: ERC seminar room, 6th floor, Menzies Building, University of Cape Town

Please feel free to forward this invitation to others who might interested.

Harald Winkler
Programme leader: Energy, Environment & Climate Change
Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town
Private Bag
Rondebosch 7701
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 650-2100
Fax:+27 21 650-2830

PS: You can even do your own personal bit for mitigating green house gas emissions, see here

01 August, 2006

Fuel Consumption Converter ...

My wife and I are about to purchase a new Fiat Panda to replace her aging VW Golf Chico 1600.
One of the primary factors that influenced our decision is its remarkable fuel efficiency.
Here is a link to a very useful Fuel Consumption Converter.

Don't bother to tell your American friends that your new car does 4.6 litres/100 kilometers, they won't understand at all. Maybe if you tell them your car does 50 miles/gallon it may cause them to pause for a moment (only a moment mind you) to think of their own outrageous contribution to atmospheric carbon emmissions and global climate change.