CAMBODIA has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world. Since 1970, Cambodia’s primary rainforest cover went from over 70 percent to 3.1 percent and tragically, Worse, deforestation rates continue to accelerate today. The overall rate of total forest loss has jumped nearly 75 percent since the end of the 1990s. In total, Cambodia lost 2.5 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005—334,000 hectares of which were primary forest. Today less than 322,000 hectares of primary forest remain. Illegal logging, combined with rapid development and population growth, is blamed for much of Cambodia’s forest loss. (http://rainforests.mongabay.com/20cambodia.htm)
Svay Rieng and Prey Veng, are agriculture-dependent provinces and lie in the plains of the Southeastern part of Cambodia which border Vietnam. There are very few forests and natural resources left nowadays as they have been severely destroyed by illegal logging and human activity. Firewood and charcoal are the main sources of energy for rural Cambodians, representing more than 90% of their consumption. Due to massive deforestation in most part of the areas in Cambodia, rural communities have faced problems with their daily needs. Moreover, certain species of birds and animals have also disappeared in a worrisome trend causing fear of extinction.
The Cisadane River is one of the main rivers within both Banten Province and West Java Province, Indonesia. It takes its source from the Salak-Pangrango Mountains (located in Kabupaten Bogor, south of Kabupaten Tangerang) and discharges its waters into the Java Sea. The river’s length is around 80 km.(http://www.tkcmindonesia.com/english/river.html). The river is now very polluted by industrial waste. There are approximately 1400 companies along the Cisadane which dump their waste into the river.
The companies manufacture products including textiles, paper, cosmetic and food (bread, snacks etc..). There are about 7000 m3 of liquid waste per day which contains Chromium (Cr), Cadmium (Cd), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn) and Mercury (Hg) thrown into the river. The increasing level of pollution due to industrial and domestic activities, including illegal waste water discharges, makes the water difficult to treat and therefore more costly. People who live along Cisadane River cannot use the water without the special treatment process.
Communities also lose the biota of the river for their food, such as fish. Furthermore, there are cases of skin diseases and diarrhea being reported by local people. However, the polluted river has been the main source of water for the Tangerang regency and municipality water suppliers, namely PDAM Tirta Kerta Raharja and PDAM Tirta Dharma. Both operators take and process the polluted water to serve the daily needs of their 500,000 customers. That figure excludes thousands of local people living along the riverbanks who also use the river water for their daily needs such as washing, bathing and cooking.(http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2004/05/08/pollution-cisadane-river-continues.html)
Besides the problem of industrial waste pollution, the Cisadane river watershed is one of the most important watershed areas in the Halimun ecosystem. The watershed is threatened by an increase in illegal logging, decreasing the rich biodiversity in the area.
The ongoing conflict in Myanmar’s ethnic states has caused many problems, such as deforestation, unstable livelihoods, loss of biodiversity, internal displacement and refugees in neighbouring countries. In recent years Chinese companies have been involved in the construction or planning of over twenty large dams on the Irrawaddy, Salween, and Sittaung rivers or their tributaries in Myanmar. Dams planned for the Salween, the Irrawaddy and its tributaries alone have a combined capacity of over 30,000 MW representing an investment of at least US$30 billion.
The majority of power produced will be for export to neighboring countries even though Myanma is facing an energy crisis. The sale of electricity from these dams will provide significant long-term income to the military regime. The military spends 40% of its budget on defense and under 5% on health and education (www.salweenwatch.org).
The military regime’s mega development projects such dams have a heavy negative impact on the lives of Myanmar’s people. The current proposed hydropower projects on the Salween river will destroy thousands of peoples’ livelihoods, ecosystems and biodiversity in Shan, Karenni, Karen and Mon states.
The Philippines has rich mineral deposits. However, the liberalization of the mining Industry has paved the way for the unhampered exploitation of the country’s mineral reserves by trans-national companies (TNCs) and multi-national companies (MNCs). Forty percent of the total land area of the archipelago is covered by mining applications and it is expected that 80% of indigenous peoples are facing displacement. Sources from the mines and Geosciences Bureau disclosed that 531,843,396 DMT of mine tailings and mine waste were produced by large scale mining firms between 1984-2004. An average of 160,000 tons of mine tailings find their way into the rivers, lakes and irrigation canals every day. Most, if not all the mines operating in the Philippines construct their tailings pond in valleys and gullies. Some even do not have tailing ponds and dump mine tailings directly into the river. One example is mining in Mt. Diwalwal, Davao del Norte. Other factors affecting the river’s death are inadequate seweage systems, industrial and domestic wastes.
Modern agribusiness and overuse of chemical inputs in agriculture have also contributed to the loss of biodiversity and threatened indigenous knowledge systems. In the Philippines, over 30,000 hectares have been planted with Bt (Baccillus thuriengensis) Corn. The development of the Liguasan Marsh, the largest marsh in Mindanao will also threaten the lives of more than 1 million Moro people. Similarly, the flora and fauna of the marshland faces extinction.
The destruction of biodiversity as a result of mining, pollution and damming of rivers, use of GMOs in agriculture, and other ecological destruction has adversely affected communities, the people, the children and the resource base. But children usually suffer disproportionately as they are the most vulnerable group in the community. In areas where GMO crops are tested, it often contributes to loss of plant diversity and erosion of genetic resources. Where mine tailings and effluents are thrown into major water pathways such as rivers, it results in the destruction and pollution of fresh water and the death of river ecosystems. These environmental onslaughts take place because of neo-liberal capitalist policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation to serve transnational corporations, and an over emphasis on economic development. Most often it is detrimental to the culture of the people, the diversity of life, and worsens the plight of women and children.
The “Mekong” river is one of the world’s major river systems. It is the 10th longest river in the world and drains an area of 795,000 km2. Studies found that the Mekong contains more than1,245 types of fish.
The source of Mekong river is the Himalai valley in Tibet.t flows from there, to Myanmar, then to the Thai-Lao border and into Vietnam. It is well-recognized as the life blood for more than 60 million people in 6 countries across South East Asia:China, Myanmar, Laos Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Those that live along the banks and around the Mekong basin benefit from economic, environmental societal and culture activities based around the river. In Chiang Rai, the Mekong river flows to the Thai boundary and the Golden Triangle areawhich covers Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Wiang Kaen districts – making it a place rich with natural resources, biodiversity and culture. Hence the expression, “Chiang Rai, land of 7 line streams, 35 hills and 30 ethnic communities.”
Mekong river countries have developed a plan for economic development on the river which is the main contributor to the damage of the river ecosystems and destruction of biodiversity. In Thailand, the Mekong river encounters many problems such as the drastic reduction of the water level due to dams, erosion of river banks and water pollution due to poisonous oil discharges at Chiang Saen port. Moreover, city communes throw waste and dirty water into the river. Additionally, explosions of river rocks in China is also a key contributor to the Mekong water pollution.
The Dong Nai River flows into the south of Vietnam and passes through 11 provinces and cities. The river basin covers an area of 14,800 km2 and has 266 rivers and streams of which are over 10km long. The Dong Nai basin system is rich with mineral resources such as gold, iron, tin, zinc, etc. which are being exploited rapidly. Besides mineral resources, this basin system is also covered by tropical forests rich in biodiversity. These forests also protect the area from flash-flooding in the rainy season and maintain water levels for the Dong Nai river in the dry season. However, rapid urbanization in the basin and high population growth have contributed to gradual deforestation. The river basin is also severely affected by pollutants resulting from fast economic growth which disregard environmental and social impacts. The downstream section of the Dong Nai is heavily polluted with organic solids and suspended solid substances which containhigh concentrations of lead. The water downstream has becomesalinized to and cannot be used for domestic and agricultural purposes. The Saigon river is also facing similar problems such as the growing numbers of industrial zones, populations and unsystematic of waste management along the river.
In 2008 the country had a population of 86 million. The provinces and cities in the basin have a population of about 14.8 million (18.97% of national population) http://www.wepa-db.net/pdf/0810forum/paper16.pdf). The whole watershed of the Dong Nai and Saigon rivers has been seriously polluted due to the expansion of industrial zones, agriculture, and fish factories along the river. There are 9000 industrial units, 491 production villages, 1633 heavy units, hundreds of industrial zones along Dong Nai and Sai Gon rivers.
In 2010, the Dong Nai River will be polluted with more than 1.54 million tons of industrial water waste, and 1.73 million tons of pollutants from human activities. The quality of water in the Saigon River will be greatly reduced, especially if the ammonium level is too – high leading to difficulties in the treatment of drinking water for Ho Chi Min city. There is an urgent need for long term measures to solve this problem.