Thousands of small farming families in Pará, in the Amazon jungle in northeast Brazil, have turned to the African oil palm as a new source of income, through contracts with biofuel companies. Strange bedfellows, which poses cultural and economic challenges.
The rural community of Las Pavas in northern Colombia received this year’s National Peace Prize Wednesday in recognition of its peaceful struggle for land that is claimed by an oil palm company, in a case that became an international symbol of the conflict over land in this country.
The green of the oil palm plantations is unbroken along kilometre after kilometre of red soil, devastated in the past by loggers and ranchers. The oil palm, a sign of alarm for some and of hope for others, is here to stay in the Amazon rainforest state of Pará in the extreme north of this country.
The small South American country of Uruguay could become a major logistics hub in the Southern Cone due to the deepwater port that the government is planning to build in a tourist area on the Atlantic ocean.
South America has gone from the world’s granary to the site of innumerable international infrastructure, energy and mining megaprojects. It is now facing a new dilemma: bolstering the economy with the promise of reducing inequality, in exchange for social and environmental costs that are taking their toll.
A new system of tunnels at the Alto de La Línea mountain pass in Colombia’s central Cordillera mountain range will open up a key logistics route for this country and neighbouring Venezuela. But it could be overcome by disaster if the Machín volcano erupts.
The Brazilian government projects the cancellation of nearly 900 million dollars in debt owed by a dozen African countries as a gesture of solidarity. But others simply see an aim to expand the economic and political influence of South America’s powerhouse.
Everything indicates that the decisive battle between harnessing hydropower and preserving the Amazon will play out in the Tapajós river basin in Brazil. At stake there are a potential of nearly 30,000 MW and a vital part of the Amazon rainforest.
The massive Itaipú hydroelectric dam, shared by Brazil and Paraguay, has now become a model for the micro-scale production of an energy source that is not only clean, but also helps to reduce pollution and promote local development: biogas.
In the war over major hydropower dams in the Amazon jungle, everyone loses - even the winners who manage to overcome the opposition and build them, but who suffer delays, costs that are difficult to recoup, and damage to their image.
The law passed in Nicaragua to grant a concession to a Chinese company to build a canal between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans repealed legislation that protects Lake Cocibolca and its tributaries.
Declining mineral content, the need to preserve the environment, and technological advances are causing big mining companies to turn back to underground mining in what is a rising trend in Chile and around the world, experts say.
The arid climate in northern Chile has forced mining companies to seek out new sources of water. The main source is seawater from the Pacific Ocean, whose use is expected to increase significantly in the coming decade despite the high costs of extraction and transport.
The decisions taken by the Brazilian government in the fight against drought in the country’s semiarid Northeast are an example of the disconnect between politicians and the citizens, which triggered an unexpected wave of protests in June.
The first surprise on arriving at Abel Manto's farm is how green it is, in contrast with the dry brown surroundings. His beans and fruit trees seem oblivious to the persistent drought in the semi-arid hinterland of northeast Brazil, the worst in 50 years.