Communicating climate change and biodiversity in coastal areas: A community-based adaptation strategy

R.Z. Guzman, R.V. Ramilo and F.B. Samiano
Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern, Philippines

This paper is a component of a community-based climate change adaptation project that reviews current coastal policies and legislation and identify their weaknesses in addressing impacts of climate change, assess vulnerable areas that are suitable for demonstration of appropriate bio-physical adaptation measures designed to safeguard infrastructures and biodiversity as well as to enhance disaster management at the local level. Climate Change (CC) communication enables the local people to increase knowledge and understanding on climate change and its relations on their day to day activities and long term survival. It emphasizes the urgent need to act in response to the risks of CC-related events by all sectors of society and that small initiatives to address CC can contribute in very significant ways to the bigger picture.

The case study was conducted in two municipalities in the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate, Philippines. Three major communication strategies were tested in this study, namely: (1) Theatre Play – which was designed to allow the community to feel the effects of climate change in their daily living and when supplemented with training will result to a deeper understanding of CC and may lead them to become CC advocates; (2) Local Climate Change Video – this was designed to  let the community see the effects of CC in their locality thereby developing a deeper understanding of its causes, effects and impacts and at the same time propel them to generate appropriate solutions and remedies to CC problems and issues. From the community at large, it was expected that the video strategy will open avenues to pick potential local resource persons who can be trained to become effective CC advocates; and (3) Film Showing and Game Show – the expected result of this strategy was to initiate the community to start talking about climate change and thus disseminate CC widely within the sphere of influence and reach of the community. Another projected result would be the assimilation of the basic understanding of CC by the community which is primordial in communicating CC.

Results indicated that after the theatre play where the selected members of the community themselves actually played their respective roles,  and the subsequent social interactions thereafter, it became very clear to the community what they can actually do, such as putting a strict halt to all illegal activities that contribute to CC and to start working together as a community. The active participation of the community as main stage actors/actresses made them feel the effects of CC. It has drawn them to mobilize actions as reflected in the turn-out of trainees in the succeeding training on mangrove protection and rehabilitation and have demonstrated interest, attention and participation in planning workshops on CC adaptation and mitigation. It has also attracted participation of two other neighboring barangays. What was evident from them was their realization of the importance of collective efforts and working as a community in addressing CC. A film documentation of the theatre plays generated by the communities has attracted the attention of various sectors of society especially of neighboring municipalities in both provinces and form part of this paper.

In the second strategy where prominent citizens from the community detailed their experiences on CC and the overwhelming changes that occurred through the years in their province as a result of CC, captured through video technology, the community realized the changes that have been happening in their area and the gravity of the present situation thus moving them to action. The credibility of the documentation was significantly high since the messages were shared by people whom they know and respect. Members of the community which included a cross-section of the society (local government, business, civil, academe, religious, etc.) who contributed to the documentation process especially the sharers were transformed into prominent CC advocates, leaders and resource persons in the community. Many of them have in fact, volunteered to become the chairman, vice chairman, officers and members of the marine sanctuary management team.

This clearly shows that community efforts and working together is the key to address CC. Two video documentation for the two case communities form part of this paper.

In the third strategy where the community was asked to translate the messages of the film into actions, the people were enabled to broaden their knowledge as they started talking about CC. The discussions provided them the ability and opportunity to distinguish problems and issues prevailing in their respective areas. This has resulted to the possibility of prescribing and recommending local knowledge and skills for CC mitigation and adaptation following the realization that unscrupulous human activities evidently cause CC.

The strategies employed some significant gains in terms of the people’s knowledge on climate change and biodiversity, realization of the causes and effects of changes in their environment, and mobilizing actions towards solving environmental problems. Of utmost significance is the learning of the value of working together as a community to reduce their vulnerability and minimize the devastating effects of climate change on their lives.

Invasive alien species in Indian ornamental industry

S. Rameshkumar, K. Manivannan, C.T. Sathappan and J. Padmanaban
Annamalai University, India

Quantum jump of increase in the awareness about global warming and environmental pollution made the mind set of industries, institutions, corporate and even common man to think about finding a solution to it. Establishment of ornamental gardens and green belt development in the surroundings and waste lands is becoming the best option to curtail pollution problems and it has almost been considered as mandate in urban areas. Increased green belt development and gardening activities help the industries and corporate to manage their carbon credit and in turn helps in reducing climate change.  In these green belts and corporate landscapes and even in botanical gardens many alien species are used in larger volumes.

In a survey conducted in nursery pockets and landscape industries of south India evinced the status of alien species that more than 60 per cent of the ornamental species are foreign in origin and few species are Invasive in nature. More than 50 per cent of the landscape architects opted for foreign ornamental plants to be incorporated in their present and future projects and opined it is inevitable to avoid the invasive alien ornamentals as they have preference among the clients. Though many of these plants are well accommodative and have ornamental value, there is a chance for certain highly invasive alien species to become threat for the eradication native species in the locale and may become serious weed as evident from Lantana Sp. and water hyacinth which were introduced as ornamental plants and now being a threat as major weeds in Indian sub continent. Hence it becomes necessary to have check measures to evaluate the invasiveness of the alien species when it is introduced as an ornamental plant.

Current Status of Plastic Packaging Materials in Sri Lanka

R.A. Jayasinghe, N.J.G.J. Bandaraand W.A.S.S. Dissanayake, W.M.S.K.B. Wijekoon
Department of Forestry and Environment Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

All the goods we purchase today require some form of packaging in order to reach their final destination in our homes or workplaces. Despite the many functions served, there is a concern about the amount of packaging that is used and readily disposed. Since it constitute a significant portion of the municipal solid waste stream which will end up in open dump sites, landfills or are burnt in open air.

This study was conducted to recognize the importance of adequate and reliable information on plastic packaging materials and to analyze the current status of the packaging materials used in the country in both qualitative and quantitative manner.

The study was carried out in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. In total, 300 households were selected for the study from the three districts, namely Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara. Each district was again divided into three sample areas as urban, semi urban and rural according to socio-economic factors such as number of people and income level of the family. 08 groceries per sub area were selected to represent different categories of commercial establishments (Super markets, medium and small sized groceries and shops) from each district. Furthermore, 12 recycling and manufacturing plants were visited from the three districts. The respondents were selected using random sampling method and the data collection was carried out primarily through questionnaire surveys, personal interviews and field visits.

The data collected through the questionnaires were analysed qualitatively and statistically to find out the current status of plastic packaging materials in a densely populated area of the country. According to the survey results, most commonly used packaging material by households is polythene bags. 72% of the households stated that the shopping bags and grocery bags are the most common type of packaging item used in households followed by other food wrappers (59%) and lunch sheets (49%).

Most of the items in the supermarkets are packed using some kind of plastic packaging material and they are giving away bags for each and every item a customer buys. Approximately 1500-2000 bags of all sizes are sold in an average town per day. 62% of the households in urban areas stated that the most common practice of disposal is open dumping or disposing to be collected by the waste collectors of the Municipal or Urban councils. Burning is also widely practiced among many households in rural and semi urban areas as plastic materials are easily combustible. This was 68% in rural and 50% in semi urban areas consecutively.

According to the survey, only 13% of households practice proper waste separation at their homes. 60% of households do not sort by any means and 27% sort waste as organics and inorganics. Re-use capacity of plastic packaging materials are also very low. Only 20% of the households practice re-using of plastic packaging in a regular basis.

According to the data analyzed, the composition of plastic waste used for recycling are PP, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PS, PVC, PC and other polymers. The major portion of plastic waste collected for recycling consists of PP. Recyclers do not accept plastic materials which are contaminated with cement, chemicals, acids and poisons. Moreover, plastic materials found in mix waste are also not accepted due to practical difficulties in sorting them. Despite many difficulties faced by the recyclers, many stated that the industry is profitable.

Eco friendly sewerage system for low income coastal community

W.N.C. Apsara and B.C. Liyanage
Department of Civil Engineering, The Open University of Sri Lanka

The purpose of a sewerage disposal system is to carry human excreta & urine (Black water) and wastewater (Gray water) back to nature in a proper way without any harm to the environment as well as to human beings. But the implementing and operating costs of the sewerage disposal systems are normally very high which make low income communities unable to reach these techniques.

The aim of this study was to find a proper sewerage system for a low income coastal community, “Pittaniya Watta” in Moratuwa Municipal Council. The community consists of 142 families with about 710 people spreading over a 8092m2 limited area. First the real situation and the problems prevailing were found doing a questionnaire survey, which consisted 105 questions in 10 different categories that covered relevant problems in sewerage disposal according to a proper cross section.

Questionnaires were analyzed and evaluated to find daily water consumption and sewerage disposal capacities. Based on the results, Eco-sanitation and simplified sewerage system were selected as the most economical solution for the problem. The Eco-sanitation is a separate unit, which constructs above the ground level and consists of two compartments that are used only for excreta disposal and could be used alternatively for individual houses. Number of Eco-sanitation units required for the said community was 142 nos.

The simplified sewerage system is the most economical “off-site disposal system” which was designed considering both self cleansing velocity (0.5 m/s) as well as tractive tension (1 Pa). The results revealed that the best fitted minimum sewer gradient and the minimum sewer diameter were 1 in 208 and 100mm respectively. The collected sewage will be treated in primary and secondary stages in anaerobic digestion units. Three units were provided with each dimension length, width and depth of 6.2mx 3mx4m respectively and 0.2 m of free board. Using a lift station a head was added to the effluent to take it from 5m below the ground to the ground surface where the Reed bed was provided before it is released to the existing drains that are directed to the sea.  Estimated hydraulic retention time of the reed bed is 6.79 hours while dimensions are: water depth = 0.6m and surface area of the bed =78 m2.

According to the basic cost analysis on two systems Eco-san unit for each house is Rs 47925. When consider the whole community, the total cost for Eco-san was Rs 6,805,350 while the simplified sewerage system was Rs 2,886,000. However, at the operational stage of simplified sewerage system, with maintenance cost, the total cost was estimated as Rs 16,606,390.00.  Therefore, based on the cost and considering the most suitable system for the subjected community is Eco-san. But according to communicant’s desire, land scarcity, and population growth as well as future forecast on water consumption, improvement of the living standards etc. simplified sewerage system was selected as the best sewerage disposal system to implement at Pitaniya Watta low income community.

Influence of undergraduate activities on the waste composition and generation rates in a residential university: Case study

S. Wijetunga and N. Liyanaarachchi
Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

The increase of waste generation and its disposal is a major problem and challenge faced by the most of the countries today.The uncontrolled disposal of different types of waste into environment is a great threat for the future of all living beings in the world. Therefore, it is essential to pay more attention for the waste management and disposal to avoid the detrimental impact on the environment. For the development of a proper treatment or disposal systems for waste management for any organization or municipality, it is essential to have the information with respect to waste composition, generation rate and its variation with time of that organization. Therefore, in this study, it was attempted to evaluate the composition and the variation of waste generation rate in the hostels of the undergraduates of University of Ruhuna with their activities.

The study was conducted in the premises and surroundings of the hostels of the undergraduates for a period of one year (September to August). The waste samples were collected from each and every hostel once in two months. The waste samples were separated into different components (such as foods, paper, plastics, etc), weighed and determined the percentages of different components.  The different types of waste generation rate per head were calculated based on the waste generation for the total study period. It was found that food remains, papers, plastics and polythene are the major components. The types of waste found in hostels of girls were less in numbers than that of boys. Leather, textiles, metals, etc could not be found in hostels of girls.

Over ~95 % of waste found in girls’ hostels were food remains and boys generate food waste about ~71%. Per capita food waste generation by girls was ~ 207 g/day while it was ~23 g/day by boys. The generation of other types of waste was higher in hostels of boys than that of girls’ hostels. It appears that the amount of waste generation varied in different months basically due to examinations and other activities of the students. During examination periods, it seems that the undergraduates may change their food habits. Based on this study, it can be concluded that major component of waste found in undergraduate hostels was food wastes and the generation rate slightly varies with the activities of undergraduates. When designing of a waste management systems for higher education institutes where students reside, higher priority should be given for the management of food waste

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Assessing the role of environment regulation on firms’ private action towards environmental quality: Case of non-adoption of solid waste management practices by food processing sector in Sri Lanka

J.M.M. Udugama and U.K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige
Department of Agribusiness Management, Wayamba University, Sri Lanka

Whether a firm takes private actions to augment environment quality, more often than not classified as a public good, in a situation where it can compensate the less significant losses in the market with relatively higher gains obtained through failures in government policy is of an economic issue of concern amongst the economists and policymakers. The specific objective of this study was to address this economic problem from an empirical point of view. It uses the special case of Sri Lankan food processing firms’ non-compliance to the recently introduced National Strategy for Solid Waste Management of the Ministry of Environment, which recommends 9 different solid waste management practices (SWMPs) for a food firm to adopt based on the production and processing activities it undertakes.

From a database containing the information with regard to different types SWMPS adopted by a firm, we have selected 160 firms which did not have even the “most economical” practices out of the 9 SWMPs recommended in place, i.e.: (1) sorting of waste based on 3R system; (2) composting and (3) good manufacturing practices (GMP). The perceptions of managers of these firms on various facets related to existing and anticipated environment regulatory framework and the legal/judiciary system were assessed by taking the scores provided by them to a series of statements (n = 14) on a multi-point bidirectional likert-scale. The Confirmatory Factor Analysis techniques, including the Scale Reliability and Unidimensionality were employed to these scores to derive an index – “Environment Regulation Responsiveness Index” (ERRI) the values of which reflects the relative strength of a firm in concern reacts to the environmental regulation (i.e. -1.0 the least to 1.0 the most responsive).

The magnitude of ERRI of a majority of the firms was relatively low (i.e. in between -0.5 to 0.5), especially for the small scale firms, indicating that firms’ did not consider the government regulation as a promising factor governing their action on environment. It also highlights that a vast majority (> 90%) of firms have “no plans” to adopt any of these practices in the near future citing the financial burden and the lack of information on SWMPs. The outcome of analysis, thus, calls attention for a critical revision and adjustments to the policy on environmental quality management at the National and Provincial level in order to promote voluntary action by firms.

Key words: compliance, environmental quality, food processing sector, regulation, solid waste management

Effects of modified artificial soils on compost worms: An approach to large scale worm production

P.M.C.S. De Silva
Department of Zoology, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

Vermicomposting is a viable recycling technique. Nevertheless it has a very little popularity in soil waste management process in Sri Lanka mainly due to the lack of large scale compost worm production. Substrate is one of the major factors that determine earthworm   reproduction. Artificial soil made from fine sand (70%), kaolin clay (20%) and sphagnum peat (10%) is being used as a substrate in temperate regions and this type of artificial soils are not feasible in tropical regions due to scarcity of peat.

Therefore compost worm production was investigated in locally prepared artificial soils (AS) using paddy husk, saw dust and coco peat (composted & uncomposted). Adult earthworms of compost worms (Eisenia sp and Perionyx excavatus, n = 10, 6 replicates) were introduced into prepared AS and incubated under tropical conditions for 28 days. The moisture contents of the prepared AS was set to 50% of the respective water holding capacities. After 28 days adults were removed and containers were kept for another 28 days for hatching of the juveniles. Mortality and mean number of cocoons (28 days) and juvenile production (56 days) was determined. Temperate artificial soil was used as the control substrate.

No mortality was recorded with both species tested and in all four modified soil types, indicating their survival was not affected by the nature of modified soils.  Number of cocoons and juveniles produced by Eisenia andrei in control soil was not significantly different with AS consisted with composted coco peat and paddy husk (p> 0.05) but significantly different with AS consisted with saw dust and uncomposted coco peat (p< 0.001).  The highest mean number of juveniles of P. excavatus (168.25 and 167) and mean number of cocoons (1.47 and 1.42 cocoons/ worm/per week) were recorded in temperate AS and AS with composted coco peat respectively and lower number of juveniles were recorded in AS with saw dust and paddy husk. The results indicates that AS soils made from composted coco peat gives similar performance in juvenile production of both compost worms tested and may be used in mass scale compost worm production under tropical conditions.

Economics of Utilization of Fly Ash Originating From the Coal Power Plant, Norochcholai

B.R. Jayasekara and U.A.D.P. Gunawardena
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura , Sri Lanka

A new type of a solid waste which is known as fly ash will be available in Sri Lanka at the end of year 2010 due to operations of the Coal power plant, Norochcholai. Fly ash is a superfine, powdery byproduct which is carried away from the power plant boiler in the flue gas during coal combustion. It is expected to generate 70,000 tons of fly ash annually from the coal power plant. The objective of the study was to investigate the potential for effective utilization of fly ash originated from the Coal power plant while minimizing the environmental and social impacts.

The methodology of the study involved three surveys; an expert opinion survey to identify environmental impacts of fly ash and potential utilization opportunities of fly ash; an industrial survey to investigate willingness of industries to utilize fly ash and a contingent valuation survey to estimate the potential damage cost to the surrounding communities. In order to find out the best uses of fly ash financial and economic analysis were carried out for each and every industry that have the potential to use fly ash.

The expert opinion survey indicated that only the fine portion of fly ash (20%) is usable for cement production and the rest could be used for industries such as ready mix concrete, asbestos cement sheets, dam and road construction and cement based products such as light weight concrete blocks, clay-fly ash bricks, etc. The main impacts of land filling of fly ash include contamination of soils and water especially due to highly alkaline leachate.

The financial analysis of fly ash utilization indicates that asbestos cement industry receives highest financial benefit while the lowest were received by cement industries. However the highest economic benefit of fly ash utilization is gained by cement production which is Rs 13,330.35 per ton. Total cost of land filling of fly ash (per ton) is estimated as Rs 228,721.72 and therefore the full utilization of fly ash is very important while avoiding land filling.

In conclusion, the best practice to handle fly ash originating from the coal power plant is to utilize the ash in order gain the highest economic benefits to the country. This is very important because the fly ash storage capacities in the power plant are only enough for two days.

Utilization of earthworms in organic waste management

P. Alagesaran and R. Deebha
Post Graduate and Research Department of Zoology, Yadava College, Madurai, India

Vermicomposting is an ecofriendly, socially sound and economically viable technology to manage the organic waste resources. It is popular particularly in India, because it is the cheapest solution to overcome the dangerous effects of modernized agriculture. Vermicomposting is the application of earthworm in producing vermifertilizer which helps in maintenance of better environment and results in sustainable agriculture. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficiency and the nutritional status of vermicompost processed by two earthworm species, Eisenia fetida and Eudrilus eugeniae from leaf litter and sugarcane trash.

Chemical analysis of the vermicompost obtained from leaf litter wastes showed that the quantity of organic carbon was reduced from 38.65 to 28.89 and 28.0% by E. fetida and E. eugeniae respectively. The level of nitrogen (1.30%), phosphorus (0.38%), potassium (0.57%) and calcium ((0.70%) was maximum in leaf litter vermicompost processed by E. eugeniae than E. fetida. At the end of 45 days of composting, E. eugeniae has tremendously decreased the C/N ratio from 45.47, 60.19 to 22.40 and 29.19 in the composts of leaf litter and sugarcane trash respectively. Similarly, E. eugeniae processed leaf litter compost treated with plant, Abelmoschus esculentus showed maximum height (61.4cm), number of leaves (16 per plant), leaf area (365 cm²), fruit length (15.8cm), fruit weight (17.9gm) and total chlorophyll content (3.76 mg/g.fresh wt) than those treated with sugarcane trash.

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A Boolean Network Model to test ecosystem resilience under elevated nitrogen deposition and drought

K.  Naithani and E. A.H. Smithwick
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA

Elevated nitrogen deposition alters soil biogeochemistry and associated ecosystem processes that can lead to plant mortality and decline in stand productivity. Understanding the effects of elevated nitrogen deposition as a result of different land use practices is critical for predictive understanding of ecosystem productivity and resilience. Nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems is a nonlinear, complex and dynamic process which can be characterized by coupling of physical, chemical and biological processes and their feedback at different spatial and temporal scales. This paper presents a graph theoretic approach to characterize the behavior of nitrogen dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. Different pools and observations are presented as nodes and their direct and indirect effects are displayed as edges connecting them. The directed network allows the percolation of perturbations among couplings in a desired direction. We used a Boolean Network Model to test the effect of elevated nitrogen deposition on ecosystem productivity by running the model under different initial conditions and analyzing alternate stable states (attractors).

Prior information about the processes involved in nitrogen cycle and its influence on plant growth is used to determine a set of rules that encodes causal relationships and change in one component leads to the change in another component of the network which is used as an input to a Boolean form of the process network.

We found that network is robust against simulated perturbations via introduction of drought and elevated nitrogen deposition alone, but showed great vulnerability under combined influence of drought and elevated nitrogen deposition. Simulation of ecosystem behavior from our model indicates the potential vulnerability of key nitrogen cycling process and provides basis for future experimental and field research to test the outcome of our model.