‘Cycling4Gaza’ pedals into its fourth year

Updated 12 October 2012
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‘Cycling4Gaza’ pedals into its fourth year

An international team of 35 members will cycle 350 kilometers on Oct. 24 around the Sea of Marmara in Turkey to raise £ 200,000 toward health and educational projects for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
“Cycling4Gaza” is a humanitarian initiative which began in the wake of the 2009 war on Gaza by a group of young people based in London to mobilize people yearly from all parts of the world for a cycling challenge, with the goal of reaching the Gaza Strip.
Over the past three years, participating members have cycled across the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Jordan to create awareness about the ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip, and raise critical funds for NGOs that work to support refugees living under occupation to help build a self-reliant and healthy Palestinian community.
Funds generated by the sporting challenge have benefited select charities like Welfare Association and MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) which provide primary trauma care, and maternal and child health care through training programs for the medical team and other members of the community.
Last year, the team cycled across Aqaba to the Dead Sea, Jordan, successfully raising over £ 220,000 that supported the National Society for Rehabilitation based in Khan Younis and Rafah, Al Wefaq Relief and Development Society, Society for the Care of the Handicapped in Gaza, and Nour Marifa.
The donations have also supported health organizations in the treatment of injured, disabled and special needs children; provision of sight and hearing aids; psychiatric and psychosocial support; and special education and training programs.
“This is the fourth time ‘Cycling4Gaza’ is taking place; it will be my second time however,” said Rawan Yaqub who will be participating from Saudi Arabia.
“Last year was an eye opener since we had a rider from Palestine who spoke to us about his personal experience in Gaza. We got to hear stories first hand. The team was great and their spirit was amazing. We learned to work together in harmony, and of course being part of the team raised our awareness on Gaza and their everyday suffering”, she added.
For more details on Cycling4Gaza’s 2012 challenge, visit: www.cycling4gaza.com


Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

An aerial photo of a road running through an palm plantation in Dumai, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia. (Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/via REUTERS/File)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

  • Researcher Alice Hughes found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
  • An average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.

KUALA LUMPUR: Forests in parts of Southeast Asia face greater threats than previously thought because researchers often rely on data that ignores new roads, which are precursors to deforestation and development, a study shows.
The paper, published this month by the journal Biological Conservation, showed that an average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.
“Large-scale forest clearance is preceded by the growth of road networks, which provide a stark warning for the region’s future,” the study said.
Author Alice Hughes, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, studied a total of 277,281 square kilometers by analyzing satellite images and maps showing forest loss and coverage, as well as agriculture concessions.
She found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
“We are deluding ourselves that we still have large tracts of inaccessible, pristine forest, when the reality is highly-fragmented, very accessible forests,” Hughs said on Friday.
Her research examined road networks in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“In some parts of the region, up to 99 percent of roads on those global maps, which are used as the basis for a huge amount of further analysis, are not included,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Deforestation and development of forests in the area studied have occurred at a rapid pace since 2000, said Hughes, while maps used by researchers do not regularly update their road data.
“Most of the time these roads are just providing access to forests and up to 99 percent of deforestation is within 2.5 km of road,” she said. “They are clearly the access method.”
She added that the region urgently needs better protection and enforcement for its remaining forests.
Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest palm oil producer, introduced a forest clearing moratorium in 2011 to help reduce deforestation.
Hughes said the ban should be expanded beyond just land designated as natural, untouched primary forest to include all high biodiversity forests.
Hughes’ research methodology should be used to determine whether the same patterns exist in other parts of the world, said Christopher Martius, team leader for climate change at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research.
“It is surprising that nobody ever did that before, and it is shocking that the result shows we grossly underestimated the possible threat to tropical forests from road building,” he said by email.