Inter Press Service » Tierramerica – Ecobrief News and Views from the Global South Mon, 29 May 2017 18:27:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ecobreves – CHILE: Environmental Delays Raise Electricity Costs, Says Gov’t Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
SANTIAGO, Dec 26 2012 (IPS)

The Chilean government claims that delays in the installation of power lines due to legal proceedings and obstacles to the issuing of environmental permits will keep electricity prices high until at least 2016. Energy Minister Jorge Bunster declared that during the next four years “we will be facing restrictions in power transmission, which are leading to higher energy costs, greater vulnerability of the systems, and higher rates of service interruption.”

But the director of the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts, Lucio Cuenca, told Tierramérica that the minister’s statements merely reflect “the pressures exerted by the mining companies to obtain cheap energy, with no regard for the environmental or social impacts on the areas where the lines are installed.”

The situation in the country “demonstrates that people are not prepared to provide the mining companies with cheap energy at any cost, which is the reason behind the legal actions,” he added.

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Ecobreves – CUBA: Livestock Raising Adapted to Climate Change Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
HAVANA, Dec 26 2012 (IPS)

A change in forage crops and the search for new sources of water are among the climate change adaptation measures implemented as part of an initiative undertaken by eight cattle farming cooperatives in Camagüey, 534 km from the Cuban capital. “New grass species have been introduced in accordance with the conditions of each particular area, new sites have been identified to drill more wells, and other natural sources of water that have been untapped until now have been incorporated,” said Mayda Álvarez, the gender focal point for the initiative, which is also aimed at promoting gender equity.

These measures have been adopted in an attempt to maintain livestock production in “areas facing extreme drought,” Álvarez, a professor at the University of Camagüey, told Tierramérica. Local farmers who carry on the longstanding tradition of cattle raising in this area of Cuba are currently struggling to confront lengthy dry spells.

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Ecobreves – BRAZIL: More Research Needed on Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 26 2012 (IPS)

Only six percent of research on climate change and biodiversity conducted worldwide since 1990 addresses the impacts of these changes on biodiversity in Brazil, according to a literature review carried out by the Boticário Group Foundation. Over the course of one year, a total of 948 articles published around the world on climate change and biodiversity were identified. Of this total, 59 addressed the subject of climate change impacts on biodiversity in Brazil, 19 referred to “projected changes in the future”, and 11 to “recorded changes and monitoring”.

The most commonly addressed issues are geographic distribution of species, biological diversity and ecosystem services. Terrestrial environments were the subject of 87 percent of the studies, and none of them analyzed the impact of climate change on microorganisms and fungi.

“The number of studies needs to increase. The lack of knowledge hinders the effectiveness of strategies for climate change adaptation,” Malu Nunes, the executive director of the foundation, told Tierramérica.

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Ecobreves – VENEZUELA: First Eco-Municipality Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
CARACAS, Dec 26 2012 (IPS)

Rómulo Gallegos, a municipality in the southwestern plains of Venezuela where cattle ranching is an economic mainstay, has become the first of the country’s 333 municipalities to adopt legislation on ecologically oriented land management. The bylaw passed by the local government on Oct. 29 states that this measure is aimed at ensuring “an environment that is safe, healthy and ecologically consistent with the dynamic balance imposed by nature” on its 23,148 sq. km of territory.

In addition, it “establishes a map of priorities, sets guidelines for the creation of municipal protected areas, such as gallery forests, and could be extended to other municipalities in the plains region,” said Lila Gil, the director of foreign affairs for Latin America at The Nature Conservancy, which has provided on-the-ground support for the initiative.

The municipality, bathed by tributaries of the Orinoco River, is home to more than 220 species of flora and 700 of fauna, as well as the Cuiva and Pumé indigenous peoples, who account for 4,000 of the municipality’s 29,000 inhabitants.

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Ecobreves – BRAZIL: CO2 Emissions from Amazon Construction Timber Calculated Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 17 2012 (IPS)

Every cubic meter of wood extracted from the Amazon and prepared for use in construction releases between 6.5 and 24.9 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), from the time the trees are cut down until their final transportation to the market in the former of boards, panels and other timber products. These estimates were reached through research conducted by architect Érica Ferraz de Campos, from the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo. Her research took into account both legal and illegal logging, and was based on data gathered from the literature and from logging companies.

“Every hectare of forest contains between 200 and 425 tons of dry biomass, which store between 98 and 208 tons of carbon. When the trees are removed this carbon is released. In addition, the processing of the wood and the burning of fossil fuels, particularly during transportation, also produce CO2 emissions,” Ferraz de Campos told Tierramérica.

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Ecobreves – ARGENTINA : Insufficient Protection Against Chemical and Nuclear Accidents Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 17 2012 (IPS)

Environmental organizations are carefully monitoring the consequences of a toxic cloud that spread over downtown Buenos Aires on Dec. 6, and have warned of a lack of preparation to deal with a major chemical disaster. The Foundation for the Defense of the Environment (FUNAM), one of the organizations that denounced the potential risks, claims that the city “is not protected against chemical accidents and much less against nuclear accidents.”

On Dec. 6 a cloud with traces of the insecticide thidiocarb, released from a container in the port of Buenos Aires, spread over the Argentine capital, causing a nauseating odor and irritation of the eyes and upper airways.

Raúl Montenegro of FUNAM told Tierramérica that “the government did not distribute means of protection with the necessary urgency,” and that the authorities need to “revise disaster prevention plans” to deal with chemical as well as nuclear accidents.

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Ecobreves – HONDURAS: Environmentalists Will Manage Protected Areas Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
TEGUCIGALPA, Dec 17 2012 (IPS)

Beginning in 2013, seven protected areas in Honduras will be managed by seven environmental organizations, who will be officially responsible for their protection. The seven areas are in the north, center, west and south of the country, and their management has been granted to the NGOs by the governmental Forest Conservation Institute (ICF), said environmentalist Jorge Varela of the Committee for the Defense and Development of the Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca, on the country’s Pacific coast.

The areas encompassed are the mangrove forests of southern Honduras, the mangrove forests on the Gulf of Fonseca, La Tigra National Park, Cerro Azul Meámbar Park, Yojoa Lake, Montaña de Santa Bárbara National Park, and Colibrí Esmeralda Park.

The ICF vice minister of Protected Areas and Wildlife, José Galdámez, told Tierramérica that the contracts with the NGOs are for one year and will be renewed if the established targets are met. Honduras currently has a total of 91 protected areas.

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Ecobreves – MEXICO: Resources Demanded to Confront Climate Change Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
MEXICO CITY, Dec 17 2012 (IPS)

Environmental organizations are calling for an adequate budget for the mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its impacts. “There has been a decrease in the budget for climate change-related institutions, and adaptation and mitigation programs have been reassigned or eliminated,” Gabriela Niño, the public policies coordinator of the non- governmental Mexican Center for Environmental Law, told Tierramérica.

“The budget is heavily weighted towards mitigation, when the law says that the priority should be adaptation,” she added.

The 2013 budget bill currently being debated in Congress allocates some 2.6 billion dollars for climate change-related measures.

But no resources have been allocated for the creation of a fund aimed at adaption and mitigation actions, as stipulated by the General Law on Climate Change.

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Ecobreves – BRAZIL: Researchers Preserve Genes of Threatened Amazon Monkeys Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 10 2012 (IPS)

Researchers at the Federal University of Pará in Brazil are collecting and storing genetic material from monkeys in the genus Saimiri, commonly known as squirrel monkeys, to prevent the extinction of a sub-species endemic to the Amazon rainforest. The black squirrel monkey (Saimiri vanzolinii) is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It lives within a range of about 870 km of rainforest in the center of the Amazon. This whole area is protected by the Mamirauá Institute, which estimates the monkey’s current population at about 45,000.

“These monkeys live in lowland areas near rivers, which makes them vulnerable to climate change,” biologist Fernanda Pozzan Paim told Tierramérica.

"If the water level of these rivers rises, the already reduced population could disappear. The samples we are taking will help to understand the reproductive cycle of this primate, to define strategies for its conservation, and in the future, to conduct in vitro fertilization,” she added.

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Ecobreves – HONDURAS: In Search of Greater Transparency in the Extractive Industries Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
TEGUCIGALPA, Dec 10 2012 (IPS)

The World Bank will be advising Honduras on the requirements to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). In late November, the government adopted a decree on EITI membership, reported presidential aide Roberto Herrera Cáceres. Now a World Bank mission will guide the country through the necessary requirements to be admitted to the initiative.

The EITI is an international coalition of governments, the private sector and civil society aimed at enhancing governance in countries rich in natural resources through the publication and verification of payments made by companies and tax revenues earned from the oil, gas and mining industries.

In a year and a half, the Honduran authorities plan to present a report to the EITI Board in order to gain admission, Herrera told Tierramérica. The funds received will be used for sustainable and human development projects.

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Ecobreves – CHILE: Approval of Thermoelectric Plant Sparks Protest Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
SANTIAGO, Dec 10 2012 (IPS)

Environmental organizations in Chile have expressed outrage over the ministerial approval granted for the construction of the Punta Alcalde thermoelectric power plant in the municipality of Huasco, 645 km north of Santiago. This “mistaken” decision demonstrates that “pressure from the mining sector has won out over the common good of the people of the Huasco Valley, who already face critical levels of pollution,” activist Alex Muñoz, the director of the NGO Oceana, told Tierramérica.

In November 2011, the Ministry of Environment declared a temporary moratorium on further energy sector development in the Huasco Valley, and on June 25 of this year, the project submitted by energy company Endesa-Enel was rejected by the Environmental Assessment Commission of the region of Atacama.

However, the ministers accepted the mitigation plan presented by the company for the area, where the Guacolda thermoelectric power plant and an iron mill run by the Compañía Minera del Pacífico already operate.

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Ecobreves – HONDURAS: Municipalities Confront Climate Change Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents

Some 45 municipalities in the so-called dry corridor of Honduras have begun work on a project to promote reforestation, food security and climate change resilience in order to improve living conditions for their communities. The project, supported by the governmental Forest Conservation Institute and the World Food Programme, will be carried out over the course of five years and is expected to benefit some 12,800 families.

Neptalí Amador, a local government councilor in Marcovia, in the southern department of Choluteca, told Tierramérica that female heads of household there will be in charge of a nursery that will produce 1.5 seedlings a year to be used in reforestation. This will contribute to the recovery of water sources, the protection of vulnerable communities exposed to climate risks, and the diversification of subsistence farming.

Marcovia is the pilot area for the project. The other departments included are La Paz and El Paraíso, also in the south.

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Ecobreves – ARGENTINA : Stepping Up Resistance to Mega Mining Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 3 2012 (IPS)

Residents of the southern province of Chubut, in the Patagonia region of Argentina, are fighting a proposed legal reform that would allow large-scale open-pit mining, involving the use of toxic substances, in this area. In 2003, the residents of Esquel promoted a non- binding referendum in which 82 percent of voters stated their opposition to large-scale mining. That same year, a provincial law was adopted which endorsed this opposition.

But now the government of Chubut is proposing a regulatory framework which, without revoking the law, would permit mega mining with cyanide and sulfuric acid in the center of the province, where there are copper, silver, gold and uranium reserves.

Javier Rodríguez Pardo of the Union of Citizens Assemblies of Chubut told Tierramérica that the reform “fully opens the doors” to mega mining without providing any guarantees against contamination of the water and soil.

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Ecobreves – MEXICO: Government of the Capital Wins Award for Urban Lighting Project Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
MEXICO CITY, Dec 3 2012 (IPS)

The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) has granted a special recognition award to the “Energy, Innovation and Performance in Urban Lighting” project being implemented by the leftist government of Mexico City. “The product of an exemplary public-private partnership, this project provides for the complete and sustainable management of public lighting on the main thoroughfares and in the historic center of Mexico City,” ADEME president François Loos told Tierramérica.

Since 2010, the city government has been replacing 250-watt streetlights with energy-saving lighting systems to provide nighttime illumination throughout almost the entire city of eight million inhabitants.

The government of Marcelo Ebrard, who will be replaced on Dec. 6 by Miguel Mancera, has executed the project in conjunction with the French company Citelum.

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Ecobreves – BRAZIL: Selective Waste Collection Available to Very Few Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 3 2012 (IPS)

According to a survey conducted by the Brazilian Water Program, 64 percent of Brazilians still do not have access to selective waste collection as a means of recycling. Among those excluded from selective waste collection services, 85 percent said they would be willing to separate recyclable waste if they had the opportunity, the study revealed. The Brazilian Water Program was created though a partnership between the state bank Banco do Brasil, the Brazilian chapter of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the National Water Agency.

“The deadline set by the National Solid Waste Policy for municipalities to offer selective waste collection and eliminate dumpsters is less than two years away. At this rate of progress, the targets will not be met,” Fábio Cidrin of WWF- Brazil told Tierramérica.

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Ecobreves – BRAZIL: São Paulo Solar Plant Will Supply Electricity to Public Grid Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 26 2012 (IPS)

The University of São Paulo will construct a photovoltaic power plant, in association with a local electric company, which will be the third solar power plant and the second to supply electricity to the public grid in Brazil. The plant will be powered by 2,500 solar panels to be installed in the city and will have a generating capacity of 500 kilowatts. The total cost of the project is estimated at 6.4 million dollars, and it will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy of the state of São Paulo.

This is one of 18 projects approved in 2011 by the National Electric Power Agency to lower the cost of solar power generation to one third of the current cost of almost 145 dollars per megawatt/hour.

“When the power generation source is connected to the distribution grid, data will be gathered that will help to evaluate its performance,” Rafael Herrero Alonso, an engineer at the Integrated Systems Laboratory and one of the project directors, told Tierramérica.

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Ecobreves – HONDURAS: Women Farmers Producing Better Grains Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
TEGUCIGALPA, Nov 26 2012 (IPS)

Women farmers in seven departments of Honduras are working towards higher-quality, environmentally friendly agricultural production to gain better access to markets and fairer prices. They are participating in an initiative promoted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), aimed at strengthening food security and environmental protection in the department of Olancho, in northeast Honduras, El Paraíso, in the south, Comayagua, in the center of the country, Yoro, in the north, and Lempira, Intibucá and Ocotepeque, in the west.

The main beneficiaries are women heads of household who are now producing better quality grains that they are able to sell at fair prices on the national market, Miguel Barreto, WFP representative in Honduras, told Tierramérica. The goal is to break into the regional market and to replicate the model in other IICA initiatives, he added.

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Ecobreves – CUBA: Nuclear Technology for More Resistant Crops Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
HAVANA, Nov 26 2012 (IPS)

Agricultural researchers in Cuba are using radiation in an attempt to develop banana, rice, avocado and tomato strains that are more resistant to drought and salinity, as part of a Latin American cooperation project. “Many areas of the country have saline soils as a result of seawater penetration, drought and the widespread use of chemical fertilizers, among other causes. There is a growing demand for crops that will grow in difficult conditions like these,” researcher Orlando Coto of the governmental Institute for Tropical Fruit Production Research told Tierramérica.

The initiative, which will be expanded in 2013, will maintain the current studies, which use induced mutation techniques, and incorporate work on citrus fruit crops, he explained. “We are currently irradiating avocado tree seeds and leaf buds, but more time is needed in the case of fruit trees,” he added.

The Cuban research is part of a wider project being carried out under the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the participation of 10 countries.

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Ecobreves – CHILE: Cracks in Ralco Hydro Dam Raise Concern Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
SANTIAGO, Nov 26 2012 (IPS)

The Aukin Wallmapu indigenous community in Alto Bíobío, 500 kilometers south of Santiago, has denounced the presence of cracks and leaks in the Ralco hydroelectric dam. Both the company and the government have denied any potential hazards, and claimed that the situation at the hydro plant is “absolutely and totally normal.”

But the denunciations have been backed by environmental activist Patricio Segura, who filmed the cracks and published the footage.

Segura told Tierramérica, “It is deplorable that the community itself has to practically conduct espionage work to get the authorities to react, and that a major company like this does not continuously supply information.” The cracks appeared after the earthquake of Feb. 27, 2010.

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Ecobreves – VENEZUELA: Scientists Call for Preservation of Forest Remnant Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 +0000 IPS Correspondents By IPS Correspondents
CARACAS, Nov 26 2012 (IPS)

Researchers at Venezuela’s University of the Andes are urging the government to adopt a management plan for the 7,000 hectares of the Caparo Experimental Station, the remnant of what was a forest covering millions of hectares in the country’s western lowlands less than a century ago. “We are calling for this remnant to be declared a National Park, and for a management plan to be established for the forest reserve in which it is located – decreed in 1961 with 175,000 hectares, but decimated by logging companies until the year 2000,” the researcher in charge of the station, Wilfredo Franco, told Tierramérica.

The forest’s deterioration is also due to “the roughly 10,000 people who have occupied it to carry out agricultural and livestock raising activities,” he added.

There are still 16 forest communities remaining in the station, with 191 tree species, 61 species of mammals, 248 of birds, 30 of amphibians, seven of snakes, numerous species of fish and insects, and a still undetermined diversity of microbes. This is what remains of what was once seven million hectares of forests in southwestern Venezuela and a roughly equal area in eastern Colombia.

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