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PERU: Campaigning for 35 New Protected Areas

LIMA - The Biomar consortium, made up of 10 environmental organizations from Peru and abroad, is attempting to convince the Peruvian government to declare 25 islands and 10 areas of the country on the Pacific coast wildlife refuges.

The sites, located along the 2,500 km of the Peruvian seaboard and inhabited by birds and marine mammals, should form part of the National System of Protected Areas, say the groups.

Many of the areas are rocky promontories that serve as home - at least part of the year - to sea lions, penguins, pelicans, peregrine falcons, a variety of turtle species, and other flora and fauna that are vulnerable to or threatened with extinction due to the lack of governmental controls over human activities.

"These species must be protected because they are important to the ecosystem of the Peruvian sea. They are part of our biologically diverse wealth," said Patricia Majluf, coordinator of the Biomar consortium and representative of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Peru.


REGIONAL: Water for the Americas

MEXICO CITY - Experts, business leaders and environment ministers from throughout the Americas are to meet Oct 8-11 in Mexico to draw up and adopt strategies for distributing and conserving the region's freshwater supplies.

The meeting is also intended to formulate the position of the Americas in the run-up to the 3rd World Water Forum, to take place in Japan in 2003.

The forum is to draft measures for preventing the waste and contamination of water resources, the scarcity of which could trigger social and political conflicts, says Mexico's National Water Commission.

Eighty percent of the population of the Americas has access to potable water, but the figures vary dramatically, from 91 percent in North America to 68 percent in Central America, according to the Pan-American Health Organization.

An estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide do not have adequate access to potable water, and 3.4 million people die each year from drinking contaminated water.


COLOMBIA: High Plains in Danger

BOGOTA - The ecosystem of the Andean high plains is in danger because the poverty of its residents forces them to engage in unsustainable farming practices, warned experts at the World Plains Congress, held May 13-18 in the southwest Colombian city of Paipa.

Robert Hofstede, international facilitator of the Plains Group, stressed that "85 percent of the population living in the plains of Colombia and Ecuador live in extreme poverty, and even indigence."

The plains, known in Spanish as 'páramos', are located 3,000 to 4,500 meters above sea level in the mountains of Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Peru, and plan an essential role in the storing and regulating much of the region's water resources.

Colombia and Ecuador hold nearly 90 percent of this type of plains, which are suffering the effects of urban and farming expansion and of global warming.

* Source: Inter Press Service.

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