Friday, May 26, 2017

IAPG-Pakistan: 1st Business Meeting - Minutes

The 1st Business Meeting of IAPG-Pakistan has been held on 15th May, 2017 at 10:00 AM in the Conference Room of the Department of Geology, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM). 

Coordinator Mr. Muhmmad Yaseen & Co-coordinator Emad Ullah Khan, Lecturers of the Department of Geology - AWKUM chaired the meeting and welcomed the members.

The following members attended the meeting and presented their ideas about the subject "Strengthening of IAPG-Pakistan Section":

1. M. Yaseen, Lecturer.
2. Emad Ullah Khan, Lecturer.
3. Junaid Ali Shah, Research Assistant.
4. Anwer Ali, Superintendent.
5. M. Ibrahim, Field Assistant.

M. Yaseen presented the agenda of the meeting and suggested future strategies and networking of the IAPG-Pakistan section.

In the first half of the meeting, the progress of the IAPG-Pakistan section were discussed in details. 

Furthermore, M. Yaseen suggested that proposals for an international or national level conference for strengthening and widening the impact of IAPG section in Pakistan should be submitted.

Both coordinators presented a report about a field work organized recently to nearby quarry/mines named Nowshera Reef Complex, one of the best exposed reef limestone with abundant fossils. Aims of the geological field work were to collect data about this important geo-heritage site in Pakistan that suffers destructions day by day. 

The same report will be submitted as a research article and will be asked to be uploaded in IAPG blog.

Figure: participants in the 1st Business Meeting of IAPG-Pakistan to discuss about the strategy for promoting geoethics in Pakistan.

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

IAPG and GfGD sign an agreement for cooperation

On 24th May 2017, Silvia Peppoloni (IAPG Secretary General) and Joel Gill (GfGD President) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement between IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics and GfGD - Geology for Global Development.

Joel Gill (GfGD) and Silvia Peppoloni (IAPG)
The aim of the Memorandum is to collaborate in the promotion of geoethics as an important consideration for all geoscientists, particularly emphasizing the role of geoethics in delivering sustainable development in low-income countries.

GfGD ( is a registered charity in England and Wales, existing to champion the role of geology in sustainable international development, mobilizing and reshaping the geology community to help deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030).

GfGD aims to pursue this vision (in particular, but not exclusively) through the following activities: communications, educational material, training courses, placement opportunities, by promoting research in all aspects of that subject and publishing the useful result, providing grants, equipment and services (in particular but not exclusively education and training in geology) to individuals in need, other charitable organizations, and/or other organizations working to prevent or relieve poverty. The values which underpin the work of GfGD are helpfully articulated by the Cape Town Statement of Geoethics, endorsed by GfGD in 2017, as stated in GfGD’s strategy.

IAPG affiliations and agreements:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Nigerian miners should go to Big Church Green

by Greg Odogwu
Greg Odogwu

Member / IAPG-Nigeria

In 2011, more than 400 children died from lead poisoning as a result of artisanal mining in Zamfara State. Five years later, another episode of lead poisoning occurred in Niger State, this time killing about 50 children. Government, international development agencies and local civil society organisations led the process, which ensured that the epidemic was arrested and the locations decontaminated.
But, one has yet to see any robust engagement of miners and businessmen in a process for restructuring mining activities in Nigeria in a way that it would become sustainable and ensure a safe and healthy environment. From all indication, mining is still carried on without giving a thought to best practices and geoethics.

The artisanal miners are not organised; even the ones organized like in the case of coal mining, oil mining, and yes, water mining, the businessmen involved are rapaciously taking from the Earth without any sense of responsibility to her and to the people they find in the location of their mining activities.
Businessmen generally play by unspoken business ethics; but what about geoethics? That is, in a general term, observing ethical behavior while developing geo-resources. Perhaps, professionally the practice of developing and organising these sets of ethics philosophically, socially and geo-scientifically is a relatively new concept globally, and one would then expect that it could still take some time before trickling down to us.
Therefore, indigenous miners would do well to borrow a leaf from one Nigerian who has identified with the emerging field of geoethics: Dr Olakunle Churchill of Big Church Green, a miner and entrepreneur himself.

Although it is a relatively emerging field in geosciences, geoethics is gradually assuming importance because observing ethical behaviour while developing geo-resources or while dealing with geohazards, has become an urgent need in today’s society. Geoscientists have a duty to educate society on prudent and eco-friendly use of these resources, and also to increase the preparedness of society in dealing with geohazards.
Such geo-hazards in Nigeria are lead poisoning discussed above; and the first-of-its-kind tremors experienced in two Nigerian states last year.

We cannot afford to play the ostrich, saying we are so blessed by God that we are sort of ‘exempt’ from natural disasters. The truth is more logical: As we keep on taking from our God-given natural resources, the Earth is stressed, and demands all the sense of conservation and responsibility we can muster.
Take for instance, water mining – we call it "borehole drilling". It is perfectly okay to dig boreholes and extract water if it is of good quality. However, extraction should be not much more than whatever water can get back into aquifer, otherwise, depth of ground water table shall go deeper and all bore well owners shall have to deepen their boreholes at extra costs. If any single individual digs a deeper bore and pumps out more water using more powerful pump, the water table will fall and some shallow bore holes shall go dry.

In India, the geographies where ground water table has gone too deep, any further exploitation is stopped by the government and no more boreholes are allowed. In other areas in the country, rainwater harvesting is encouraged so that aquifers can get water which tube wells shall extract round the year.
In South Africa, citizens are required to register for boreholes and this entails ground water specialists to check and verify if is well suitable for drilling.
Just like in other turfs of socio-economic activities, people need a pioneer or reference point in order to test, accept or replicate commercial trends and innovations. Nigeria’s Churchill could become the poster boy of ethical mining in our sub-region.

For many years, mining has been considered as a non-sustainable activity. This is because mining includes the physical removal of a non-renewable resource from one site for further processing and use. The resource itself is thus not sustainable. Sustainability of mining is a relatively recent concept, which embodies geoethical behaviour towards the society close to the mining area. The concept cannot be left to academics and activists alone to champion.
The issue is simple. The society close to mines is considered to have several types or aspects of capital, such as natural resources capital, educated people or human resources capital, infrastructure, employment opportunities, health services, productive farms, a clean environment, and social institutions. All these are what we can call the social capital, which contributes to a stable social order and community wellbeing.
Due to mining activities in its neighbourhood, the natural resources capital is permanently lost, with possible partial loss in other aspects of capital, like a clean environment. Sustainable mining incorporates compensation for the society towards these losses by increasing several other capital assets mentioned above.
During the operation of mining, various aspects of the capital of the society can be enhanced by the mine developers, like education for children, job opportunities for elders, health services at a company hospital, and the infrastructure for an electricity supply, roads and markets. These would continue during the several years or decades of the mining operation.
However, even after active mining stops, sustainability for the society can be achieved by effective rehabilitation processes.

Shrikant Daji Limaye, Vice-President of IAPG – International Association for Promoting Geoethics ( and Director of Ground Water Institute (an India-based NGO), discussed an exemplary scenario in his treatise entitled "Observing geoethics in mining and in ground-water development: An Indian experience" (published in the Special Issue: Peppoloni Silvia and Di Capua Giuseppe (Eds.). Geoethics and geological culture. Reflections from the Geoitalia Conference 2011. Annals of Geophysics, 2012, Vol. 55, No 3, p.163
"One of the coastal cement factories in India used a farmer friendly approach in ground water use. The farmers in the surrounding villages were worried that the factory would pump a lot of ground water from its mining lease areas at high levels, for the construction and operation of the factory, thereby promoting sea-water intrusion into irrigation wells of the farmers located at the lower levels closer to the sea.
The factory authorities declared that they would not pump any ground water from the mining area. The factory entered into an agreement with the farmers that the farmers should supply water to the factory from their wells rather than using it for irrigation and the factory would pay them in cash on a daily basis, which would be much more than what they could earn from the irrigated crops.
After the factory started working at full capacity, it used hot gases in the chimney for sea water desalination for industrial use. The factory also promoted ground water recharge by using the lowest levels of the mine pits as ground-water recharge ponds during the monsoon rainy season. This increased the water availability in the wells of the farmers, and also checked the intrusion of saline water in the aquifer."

It would be germane to remind Big Church Group that because of its niche as one of the mining industry players in Nigeria, it should go beyond identifying with the local IAPG geoethics group; by also incorporating the concept into its ongoing agro-charity projects: The Green Project, where it targets to empower youths from each state of Nigeria.
The youths from the 36 states of the federation should be empowered with knowledge of Geoethics, in order to "catch them young" for environmental sustainability. This will effectively refocus some of them into taking up relevant disciplines in higher education and then be at the vanguard of further institutionalising geoethics both in the academia and at the governmental levels.
Geoethics is promoted by IAPG worldwide as a "tool" to ensure socially responsible behaviour in mining activities. In this sense, Nigeria could become a leader in Africa. 

As Mahatma Gandhi said, God has provided enough resources for everyone’s need not for everyone’s greed.

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Deforestation and landslide hazard in Malawi: 

a geoethical perspective

by Annie Sylverio Jere
Annie Sylverio Jere

(Geologist at Akatswiri Mineral Resources, IAPG member, Malawi; email:

Picture above: 
2016 landslides induced by rainfalls in Chiweta, Rumphi districts. Landslides have blocked the road (source:

Trees have a fundamental role in the conservation of the environment by averting potential natural disasters. Through the absorption of harmful gases, trees save us from dangers resulting from the imbalance of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide occurring in the earth’s atmosphere (Nail, 2008). Moreover, as well known in the agricultural knowledge, trees prevent soil erosion. However, not often mentioned is also the role that trees play in preventing landslides.

Landslides are defined as the downward and outward movement of slope-forming materials under the influence of gravity, and in most cases water is equally involved (Varnes, 1978). Landslides description depends on the nature of their occurrence, they are sometimes called slides/slumps, avalanches, rockfall, and flows (Msilimba, 2007 & Varnes, 1978). Landslides of greater magnitude are mainly associated with failure of slope during earthquakes or rainfalls. The destabilization of materials (rock and soil) forming a slope, changes in water concentration levels and loss of woody vegetation may also trigger landslides (Broadhead and Forbes, 2011). Logging, trail construction, and forest conversion are some of activities that increase erosion and slope instability.

The roots of forestry vegetation help stabilize hill slopes by reinforcing soil shear strength (Abe and Ziemer, 1991).   Deep rooted trees and shrubs have the ability to reinforce shallow soil layers, anchor soil to bedrock, and form buttresses that resist soil movement, making shallow rapidly moving landslides less likely to occur (Broadhead and Forbes, 2011 & FAO and PECOFTC, 2013). Soil moisture levels are also reduced by the forest cover and undergrowth vegetation. This entails that landslides can be minimized or entirely averted though their main cause is natural.

In Malawi, landslides are prevalent in all the three country regions (Msilimba and Holmes, 2010). Quite a number of landslides have been documented in various papers. Most of these landslides are induced by continual heavy rains. Deforestation, which is being driven by rising demand for agricultural land, biomass energy (firewood and charcoal), timber and settlement purposes, is also considered among the main causes for the occurrence of landslides.

In the year 1946, Zomba experienced devastating landslides and floods which affected the Zomba plateau (the second largest mountain in Malawi), due to the heavy rains that fell continuously lasting for a number of days (Edwards, 1948). Landslides coincided with floods that claimed lives of many people, destroyed villages, homes and farms. Until now they are considered as the most catastrophic landslides and floods ever occurred in the district. Because of the destruction they caused, locals called those landslides and floods "Napolo" (a serpent that came to destroy many lives).

Rapid deforestation of sloping hills is attributed to economic activities such as, agricultural practices, logging, mining, development of residential areas, tourism (Broadhead and Forbes, 2011). These activities are the necessary catalysts to induce slope failure since the vegetational roots that are supposed to provide stability to the soil are destroyed (Bischetti et al., 2009). The recent deforestation in the Zomba Mountain has increased tremendously following the rapid growth of population. Trees are also being cut down for timber and the creation of space for farming and settlements. The inconsiderate deforestation of the mountain may result in the occurrence of landslides in the near future if no proper action is taken. Removal of forests from sloping land surely increase landslide risks. Even after the forestal regeneration, high landslide hazard remains, since the rooting strength may take up to two decades to recover to previous levels (FAO and PECOFTC, 2013).

Zomba Mountain, with the extent of deforestation,
and part of Zomba City
The removal of forest or brush cover and the replacement with grass or crops has often been found to substantially increase the susceptibility of hill slopes to landslides (Glade, 1998). Forests are also significant as they also serve as an effective barrier against rock, debris and soil falls from higher elevations, as well as to diminish the distance of the landslide run-out (FAO and PECOFTC, 2013). Grasses, which have shallow roots, take up most of the land when all trees have been cut down, as a result the slope becomes susceptible to the instability (Broadhead and Forbes, 2011).

The foot of Zomba Mountain hosts a city that in the future will be likely affected by even more deadly and devastating landslides than in the past. The occurrence of landslides may also damage the drainage systems, destroy riparian vegetation, induce soil erosion, accelerate the land degradation of the hill slopes, and reduce the scenic beauty of the mountain (Msilimba, 2007). Even though important policies have been implemented, Zomba population should be sensitized more on the importance of preserving trees in the mountain. Energy Statistics Database (1990) showed that more than 60% households in Malawi use firewood and charcoal for cooking (Broadhead, 2016). So, developing alternative sources of energy will contribute to prevent deforestation and reduce the landslide hazard, with positive repercussions on the protection of the natural environment and the safety of population.


Abe K. and Ziemer R.R. (1991). Effect of Tree Roots on Shallow-Seated Landslide. Proceedings, Geomorphic Hazard in Managed Forests. XIV IUFRO World Congress, 5-11 August 1990, Montreal, Canada, USDA  Forest Service Gen. Tech. Report PSW-130, Berkeley, California.
Bischetti G.B., Chiaradia E.A., Epis T., Morlotti, E. (2009). Root cohesion of forest species in the Italian Alps. Plant Soil (Impress), Doi: 10.1007/s11104-009-9941-0.
Broadhead J. & Forbes K. (2011). Forests and landslides: The role of Trees and Forests in the Prevention of Landslides and Rehabilitation of Landslide-Affected Areas in Asia. FAO, Bangkok.
Broadhead J. (2016). Nation al statistics Related to Woodfuel Production and Consumption Developing Countries, Survey-Based Woodfuel Studies, and International Recommendations on Woodfuel Surveys. Technical Report Series GO-17-2016.
Edwards T.A.C. (1948). Zomba Floods, December, 1946; Extracted from The Nyasaland Journal, 1.
FAO & The Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC) (2013). Forest and Natural Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia and the Pacific. Brief Policy.
Glade T. (1998). Establishing the Frequency and Magnitude of Landslide-Triggering Rainstorm Events in New Zealand. Environmental Geology, 35.
Holmes P.J. & Msilimba G.G. (2010). Landslides in the Rumphi District of Northern Malawi: Characteristics and Mechanisms of Generation. Nat Hazards. Doi:10.1007/s11069009-9495.
Msilimba G.G. (2007). A Comparative Study of Landslides and Geo hazard Mitigation in Northern and Central Malawi: Thesis Submitted for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree,        Faculty of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, Department of Geography, University of    the Free State.
Nail S. (2008). Forest Policies and Social Change in England. Springer Science and Business Media. World Forest, Vol. 6.
Varnes D.J. (1978). Slope Movement Types and Proccesses, Landslides-Analysis and Control in Schuster R.L and Krizek R.J., National Research Council. Washington D.C. Transportation Research Board. Special Report 176.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Slides, posters and photogallery 
of the IAPG session on geoethics at EGU 2017

Geoethics is a well-established presence within the EGU General Assemblies. Starting from the first session in 2012, the interest in ethical and social issues related to geosciences has rapidly grown, years after years the spectrum of the treated topics has become wider. 

This year in the session program we have had 12 orals and 22 posters, a great success considering the novelty of the abstract fee introduced also for the Outreach, Education, and Media sessions.

Presentations have been authored by 75 colleagues from 19 countries (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Switzerland, Tanzania, United Kingdom, USA).

Presentations have covered a wide spectrum of geoethical issues, including theoretical aspects of geoethics, geoscience professionalism, ethical implications in geoscience communication, information, education, geo-hazards and data management, mining, geoparks, ocean science, geo-archeology, forensic geology, data science policies, citizen science.

Slides and posters of several presentations are available at:

A photogallery is available at:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

IAPG-Pakistan officially presented

Muhammad Yaseen during his talk
Muhammad Yaseen, IAPG-Pakistan coordinator, presented the new IAPG national section at the Department of Geology, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, in the one-day seminar on 6th April 2017 entitled "Earth-Science - Opportunities for Geo-scientists".

Great job Yaseen!

Read more:

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