18 de marzo del 2001
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BRAZIL: Private Ecological Reserves

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil has 317 Natural Heritage Private Reserves, evidence of the growing participation of individuals in conserving the country's biodiversity.

The Brazilian Environmental Institute recognized the latest 17 reserves in late February. They are privately owned areas that, on the initiative of the owners and with the approval and backing of environmental officials, are declared to be of national environmental interest.

The owners receive tax breaks and preference in obtaining loans. They may use their land to develop eco-tourism, environmental education or research, but cannot engage in any activity that harms the natural resources, flora or fauna.

The goal is to create 5,000 private reserves by 2010, says Cecilia Pereira, of the Environmental Institute.


GLOBAL: World Water Day

GENEVA - March 22 is World Water Day, dedicated to reflection on water's contribution to human health and how it can contribute to reducing disease.

With support from the World Health Organization (WHO), governments and civil society groups from numerous countries have organized events for the day - and throughout the year - to raise awareness about the right of all people to sources of safe water.

World Water Day was first declared as an annual event in 1992, instituted by the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

If you would like to participate, connect to www.worldwaterday.org.


VENEZUELA A Lake in Coma

CARACAS - Lake Valencia, the most important wetland in the central region of Venezuela, is suffering the consequences of the massive dumping of sewage, which is endangering the lake's environmental functions.

The lake, which normally covers 369 square km, has overflowed its shores due to the accumulation of sediment in the lakebed.

The organic and inorganic matter collected there has triggered the growth of algae, which uses up the oxygen in the water, and land along the shoreline has become unproductive.

Local industry owners assure that they are following environmental regulations. But officials indicate that it is difficult to control pollution caused by runoff from nearby towns, which lack water treatment facilities.


CHILE: Taxi Drivers Go Green

SANTIAGO - Taxi drivers are to participate in a program to restrict daily vehicle traffic in the Chilean capital, a system that has been in place since the 1980s for privately owned cars to reduce the city's high level of air pollution.

The National Confederation of Independent Rental Car Workers of Chile, which includes 51 of the 53 taxi unions in Santiago, signed an accord Mar 12 with the Ministry of Transportation to add those vehicles lacking a catalytic converter (equipped to use unleaded gasoline) to the pollution-fighting initiative.

From Monday to Friday, 8,000 rental cars will no longer circulate, a number equivalent to 20 percent of the fleet, according to the agreement, which is in effect Mar 26 to Aug 31.


*Source: Inter Press Service.

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