Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Endangered species esp. plants and animals (ii) impact of overuse of chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, & pest controls on our lives (iii) wild-life of Pakistan and (iv) other interesting notes about the environmental issues again relevant to Pakistan.

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mikhurram
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Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by mikhurram » October 27th, 2013, 10:51 am

A perfect example of how human beings by interfering the habitat of a particular surrounding can create havoc. In Islamabad the introduction of the Mulberry tree menace is another example of how Capital Development Authority (CDA) without any thinking or paying any heed aerial sprayed seeds of Mulberry trees imported from China which by the passage of time started displacing native flora of Islamabad and also created allergies and now cannot be displaced.

Another case is when African Honey Bees were brought to Brazil in 1957 and they escaped in the wild and started annihilating the local tamer Honey Bees and were extremely aggressive. With the passage of time these African Bees had intermingled with the native honey bees to create a new hybrid version of bees. By 1990, these African Honey bees reached the shores of U.S.A not mentioned in the article as it appeared in April 1976 edition of National Geographic. The only silver lining was that these African bees produced more honey compared to the native bees.

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KBW
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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by KBW » October 27th, 2013, 6:43 pm

This is a very serious environmental issue and countries are facing and are likely to face even more serious consequences of this in future. West has learnt this thing that they cant just bring any animal or plant from outside and leave it in their ecosystem just because they happen to like it or it is commercially beneficial. Now there are very strict rules regarding introducing any new plant / animal in their environment and without proper research based scientific advice, they do not allow it. But enough damage has already been done.

In Pakistan we have little understanding of this aspect and one can bring in any kind of plant or animal just by paying some money to the quarantine guys. On top of it, one can import any type of medicine / pesticide etc and start treating the animals / plants with it at his own. There is no proper facility which determines the harmful / harmless effects of the plants / animals / chemicals being introduced. Online shopping has made the things even easier and here we are, introducing all kinds of animals / plants and injecting all kinds of poisonous chemicals in our environment without any proper research and without any check. Some of these things could have dangerous consequences. I wish we as a nation develop better understanding of this critical issue.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by M Farooq » October 27th, 2013, 10:07 pm

A very relevant and interesting issue. There are numerous such examples of intentional and unintentional human interferences in the eco-system which have culminated in unpleasant outcomes. In our very own country, the introduction of mulberry and eucalyptus are prime examples. Eventually eucalyptus had to be eliminated. Another bad example is that of Chinese beetle unintentionally introduced into Canada- this tiny insect has created havoc on natural conifers causing a loss of billions of dollars. But they have learnt the lesson now that it is super difficult to buy seeds/ bulbs on online even from USA. Most seed companies will not send seeds to Canada until and unless they do thorough paper work and provide a phyto-sanitary (disease free) certificate.

Moral of the story: Introducing non-native animals and plants in the environment is usually harmful in the long run!

http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/e ... anted.html

Canada's trees: Chinese tree-killing beetles found in Ontario

It begins as a tiny stowaway on a crate from Europe or Asia, a relocated piece of firewood, or just a mild winter. Within decades, millions of hectares of Canada's woodlands have been laid waste because of it. Armies of tiny insects have stripped city boulevards of stately elms and ruined billions of dollars worth of softwood. Since the 1950s, science has fought these invading waves of caterpillars and beetles using everything from DDT to pheromones and bacteria. But victory seems no closer in the fight to save Canada's trees.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by KBW » October 27th, 2013, 11:10 pm

Farooq sb, a very comprehensive post indeed.

I wonder how many of us realise the consequences of introducing plants and animals into our environment without proper research and checkups. A large variety of alien pests, viruses and bacteria are reaching our environment through the improted plants and birds etc, mostly through plants imported from China, Thailand, India etc. The chinese beetle also entered Canada with the exotic plants that were imported from China. Since these guys do lot of research they came to know about its ill-effects. We won't even know for many years what is happening to us and at the end we would just say... "Allah ki yehe marzi thi, banda kia kar sakta hai".

Experts are already pointing out that lack of understanding of environment on part of the people living in that environment is very dangerous and is already having fatal consequences that everyone has to face. Environmental control measures do not only include check on importing of plants / animals but there are host of other things. It's a comprehensive subject which needed to be studied and taught at all levels. In Pakistan, we have little understanding of the consequences of environmental degradation and the impact it will have on the development / survival of the country.

In developed countries people have started understanding this aspect pretty well. They haven't got answers to all questions but this thing is established that whatever exists in an ecosystem naturally is there for some reason and should not be disturbed. Everything has a job to perform and when everyone performs its job, the ecosystem works well. When we remove something drastically from that ecosystem or introduce something new without care, the balance is tilted and it takes lot of time for the things to settle down naturally. During this time there could be serious consequences of the change that everyone connected with that environment will have to suffer. And few things never settle down in a new environment and become a manace.

I wish environment protection is made a manadatory subject in our studies. It concerns all of us and directly relates to our future.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by mikhurram » October 27th, 2013, 11:36 pm

Source: http://x.dawn.com/2011/02/06/islamabad- ... ded/print/

Islamabad: The aliens have landed

by Zahrah Nasir
February 6, 2011

A biodiversity catastrophe of monumental size has occurred in, and around, Islamabad over recent decades, yet few people are actually taking notice of the long term environmental impact of man-made intrusions into the natural ecological balance of the area.

The introduction of potentially harmful plant species from overseas, except for that prime offender the paper mulberry, is largely ignored with the result that indigenous flora, along with birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, are placed under increasing, sometimes intolerable, levels of stress. In addition to which rapid expansion of constructed areas and other necessary infrastructural procedures are moving endemic species towards an irreversible tipping point beyond which they will become, locally at least, extinct.

Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) was introduced to Islamabad from South East Asia over 30 years ago and rapidly became a major problem. The idea behind bringing in this alien species was to green up Islamabad as fast as possible. In the process of achieving this goal, however, it quickly became apparent that the pollen of this tree was to blame for debilitating pollen allergies suffered by the city’s inhabitants and, as the trees naturalised, by those living in rural areas adjacent to the city, too. By the time the CDA woke up to the misery it had inflicted on its citizens, paper mulberry was, loving the climate as it does, too well established to eradicate.

The numerous, costly campaigns launched to destroy these trees is actually causing them to multiply as, when the trunk of a paper mulberry is cut down, it fights back by sending up fast growing shoots from its extensive underground root system by the thousands. The problem doesn’t stop there either: cutting down each of these new shoots actively encourages another multitude to come up!

Exactly who was behind the introduction of another invasive alien species, Lantana camara, a frost resistant tropical American shrub, is unclear and concerned authorities have failed to take remedial action, perhaps considering that it is too late for this. To add to the problem, nurseries still openly sell this species and buyers are many. Lantana shrubs have completely taken over thousands of acres of land lying between Islamabad and Barakhu and have colonised many other areas too, where they have wiped out many species of indigenous plants, thus adversely affecting localised ecosystems to an alarming extent.

The seeds of this shrub are spread mostly by birds who, unfortunately, find their berries irresistible. There has not yet, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, been any attempt made to prevent further spread of a species which has completely destroyed grazing and previously cultivable land in many places. To the contrary, noted botanists such as Rubina Rafiq and Yasin Nasir, have stretched credibility by listing it in their 1995 book, Wild Flowers of Pakistan (OUP, Karachi) which sets a dangerous precedent indeed.

Unregulated nursery owners are openly importing alien plant species from countries including Indonesia and Malaysia without, it appears, paying due consideration to potential problems they might, unwittingly, bring with them. Gardeners, always keen to try something new, are also happily cultivating these exotics which could, in the future, badly impact the environment and all who live in it, be they human, animal, avian, members of the aquatic or insect world and, of course, irreplaceable indigenous flora.

All of those with an interest in the plant world, from government departments to private companies and home gardeners, badly need to develop an understanding of how imported species can contribute to environmental degradation over the coming years. They would be better advised to grow indigenous species instead as these would be highly beneficial to all aspects of the natural world on which humans depend for their survival.

If, for example, the CDA had elected to plant indigenous trees in Islamabad instead of Paper Mulberry, allergy related problems would not be harming the health of the population who are currently forced to spend millions of rupees annually on seeking medical solutions. Likewise, planting indigenous trees, those appropriate to local climatic and soil conditions, would benefit everything from insects upwards as their systems have evolved in symbiosis with these rather than with ‘foreign’ things from which they often derive no sustainable benefit.

Planting of indigenous species has further benefits too: Monetary savings accrued through the purchase of less costly indigenous species could be utilised for associated environmental protection and improvement programmes. Water savings could also be massive as indigenous species rarely require the copious amounts of this increasingly precious liquid that alien species do and, as a direct consequence of this, labour savings, in the form of time, could release employees for work on more easily sustainable projects.

If Islamabad is to remain in any way green, it is imperative that the high cost import and planting of potentially invasive plant species is brought under control as soon as possible as, whilst it is true to say that climatically unsuitable ones do die off, those that find Pakistan to their liking, damage the country long term.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by KBW » October 28th, 2013, 12:38 am

Unregulated nursery owners are openly importing alien plant species from countries including Indonesia and Malaysia without, it appears, paying due consideration to potential problems they might, unwittingly, bring with them. Gardeners, always keen to try something new, are also happily cultivating these exotics which could, in the future, badly impact the environment and all who live in it, be they human, animal, avian, members of the aquatic or insect world and, of course, irreplaceable indigenous flora.

All of those with an interest in the plant world, from government departments to private companies and home gardeners, badly need to develop an understanding of how imported species can contribute to environmental degradation over the coming years. They would be better advised to grow indigenous species instead as these would be highly beneficial to all aspects of the natural world on which humans depend for their survival.
A very nice share Khurram sb. What we were talking about in bits and peaces has been very comprehensively covered in this article. I hope members will take out time and read this article with care and concentration. It is in collective benefit of all of us, not only the citizens of Pakistan which happen to be humans, but also the animals, birds, plants and all other living things that exist here. We all have to live together and that will not be possible without a deep understanding of this subject.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by M Farooq » October 28th, 2013, 12:58 am

Khurram sb posts raises interesting questions but as I pointed out once that the text is rather impossible to read. Does National Geographic have an online archive? If not, the best way is that scanned page image be converted into a pdf file. And then you can share the pdf as google document. Computer savvies can guide us.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by mikhurram » October 28th, 2013, 8:52 am

Unfortunately 95% of past articles are not available online. The scanned copies are orginally in PDF format which i tend to convert in Jpeg which are then stored in photobucket and shared. I agree that the text quality is not great and leaves much to be desired with and can be read with discomfort and inconvenience by saving the jpeg image files and then zooming on them. I will give it a try whether the pdf files stored on photobucket can be displayed on this site ?

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by mikhurram » October 28th, 2013, 9:28 am

So far we have identified Eucalyptus, Paper Mulberry trees, Lantana Camara as weeds or invasive. I suspect that Japanese Honeysuckle is also invasive and in the U.S. has been declared a weed. If other members are aware of any other plants commonly available in our local nurseries posing threat to our environment then they are requested to share the name of these plants which later can be listed in a specific section on the main page with a warning about the threat or danger posed by these plants. The moderators may consider adding this specific post in the main page. The benefit would be that other members having knowledge may start contributing.

Water Hyacinth commonly available in our local nurseries and i believe is also the offical flower of Sindh is another menace which being a weed has become a global scourge. I remember reading an article in Economist mentioning the threat posed to biodiversity by Water Hyacinth. Fortunately past article are available free of charge in Economist and hopefully would thwart others considering to use it in their gardens. Here's the article which appeared in Economist.

The curse of the water hyacinth
Jan 8th, 1998 | KAMPALA |From the print edition of Economist Magazine
http://www.economist.com/node/110585

ONCE upon a time, Lake Victoria had a sandy shoreline with wide beaches and swaying palms. Then, in the 1960s, big bad storms uprooted trees and carried the beautiful sand away. And lately, wicked water hyacinths have taken over the shoreline, ringing the lake with a thick green crust where water used to be.

Controlling the weed has become a priority for Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, which border the lake. The thick green mats of plants hamper fishermen, tangling their nets, clogging motors and destroying fish-breeding grounds. They bung up the filters of Uganda's main hydroelectric plant, at Owen Falls, and of the local breweries.

Despite its lovely name, the water hyacinth, more formally known as Eichhornia crassipes, is a global scourge. Introduced into ponds and lakes as an ornamental plant, it goes forth and multiplies until it has taken over entire habitats. It came to Lake Victoria about ten years ago, floating down the Kagera River from Rwanda. The Ugandan shoreline is the worst hit because its shallow, muddy bottom provides ideal growing conditions for the plant. By now over 80% of Uganda's 300km (186 mile) shoreline is infested.

In Uganda, many experts feel that weed levels in the lake are dangerously high. But little headway has been made in deciding what to do about it, in part because the problem is an international one. The World Bank has set up a project known as the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme to control the beast, but progress is slow. Moreover, each of the three obvious methods of control—mechanical, biological and chemical—has drawbacks.

Mechanical control, the method currently used in Lake Victoria, has been laborious and frustrating. Lifting the weed out of the lake on conveyor belts and loading it into lorries is slow. The machines that do this job are expensive and unreliable (one award-winning machine never made it out of Uganda's Port Bell harbour). Mechanical removal also leaves the problem of disposing of the removed plants. Thailand currently exports furniture made from water hyacinth, but no such use has yet been developed in East Africa. And anyway, the plant has a nasty habit of returning to cleared areas. In 1997, 24 hectares (60 acres) of water hyacinth were painstakingly cleared from near the Owen Falls electricity plant only for ten hectares to be blown quickly back from elsewhere in the lake.

In its native land—the tropical forests of Brazil—the water hyacinth is preyed on by a rust fungus, which just about keeps it under control. Biological control has now been tried in other countries—usually through the introduction of potential predators such as weevils, moths or beetles. Such efforts can work; Sudan solved its hyacinth problem in the Nile thanks to the joint efforts of two species of weevil and a species of beetle. But introducing one creature to control another can also backfire.

Too often, an introduced predator discovers a taste for something other than the delicacy it was brought in to consume, as Florida homeowners discovered one summer when introduced beetles increased even faster than the hyacinth, destroying lawns and causing an unpleasant crunchiness underfoot. Mycoherbicides—herbicides based on agents that cause plant diseases—are under development in other parts of the world, but these are not attractive in AIDS-ridden Uganda, where fears of introducing new diseases of any kind are high. And even if all goes well, biological control methods can take years to establish.

Making an immediate dent in the problem would almost certainly require the use of chemical herbicides, a step advocated by governmental bodies and private agencies alike. They insist that current weed levels are far too high to be controlled unless the mass of the plant is reduced first. They talk of using herbicides strategically, while continuing mechanical methods and introducing biological controls.

Nonetheless, this is a route many Ugandans are loth to go down. Last year a report recommending the use of herbicides was rejected by the National Environmental Management Authority in Uganda. Herbicides, although effective, are expensive and require regular reapplication. Some scientists worry about the effects of repeated spraying and an increased accumulation of dead plant material on the water quality.

Another fear is that using herbicides might hurt Uganda's fast-growing exports of fish, now worth more than its exports of cotton and tea. The European Union is a big market, and Uganda has already sometimes found it hard to comply with some EU health and sanitation standards. Although the EU sets no specific standards on trace levels of herbicides in fish, some Ugandans are afraid of the public reaction in Europe if herbicides were used in the lake, even at levels scientists deemed to be safe. For the moment, it seems, the water hyacinth will keep its dark grip on the lake.

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Re: Will Brazil's Fiery Bees Reach the U.S.?

Post by KBW » October 28th, 2013, 12:17 pm

And water hycinths were brought to Uganda by British who at that times thought that these beutiful blue gems will look very nice in the tropical water lanscapes of East Africa. Seems hundred years ago, British awareness about environment was similar to that of our's today :mrgreen:

Surprisingly, the article above does not talk much about the environmental hazards of using chemical herbicides to elimate water hycinthus?? Is it intentional?? May be some big multinational company behind it?? Uganda Govt has taken the right decision in my view by not allowing the use of chemical herbicides. They should not resort to a method which eliminates one problem (probably) but creates 10 new problems.

I am very positive that no developed country will allow use of chemical herbicides in it's own waters for eliminating something like water hycinthus. However, they can suggest a chemical herbicide for a developing country without hesitation. Afterall, how are these huge chemcial pesticide / herbicide companies located in developed countries going to survive? They have largely stopped using the pesticides in their own countries, specially in homes or areas close to population and are resorting to organic methods for protecting their crops so who will buy their pesticides. But to us, they suggest a pesticide at the outset and unfortunately, we comply and fall in to the trap. Afterall, someone must buy these poisonous pesticides I believe and it has to be third world. :?

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