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Eco-briefs

 
 

BRAZIL: Herds of Turtles

RIO DE JANEIRO - Turtle ranching, in some cases for meat exports, is on the rise in the northwestern Brazilian state of Amazonas, where there are 69 entrepreneurs working with the green light from the Brazilian Institute for Environment (IBAMA), a government agency.

An IBAMA action plan, using research and development centers, aims to build the chain of production for this new livestock, with sectors for reproduction, butchering and processing.

The turtle ranches would supply restaurants, thus reducing illegal hunting, and have been encouraged by IBAMA for the past two years with donations of recently hatched young turtles.

It is a promising new business, but still has many deficiencies. The turtle ranches only fatten up the reptiles, they don't have reproduction programs, and are far from meeting demand, so unsustainable and illegal poaching continues, Amazon turtle expert Juarez Pezzuti, from the Federal University of Pará, told Tierramérica.

 
 

CHILE: Forest Monitoring Network

SANTIAGO - The Chilean forestry research institute, INFOR, announced on Jun. 21 that it is creating an environmental monitoring network for the country's forests, thanks to two projects that demanded state investment of one million dollars.

These projects paved the way for setting up forest monitoring bases in Chile's southern rural areas, where most of the forestry resources are concentrated, said INFOR director Roberto Ipinza.

New technologies and equipment will make it possible to expand the network to the rest of the country, and a forestry map is already available on the Internet at www.mapaforestal.cl, said Ipinza.

There one can find ''basic information about the existence and potential of forest resources associated with native ecosystems in the ninth and tenth regions (in the south), which are essential for planning resource use with the perspectives of ecological, social and economic balance,'' the INFOR director added.

 
 

CUBA: Drought Forces Survival Strategies

HAVANA - The persistent drought that has hit most of Cuba's rural areas has forced farmers and ranchers to seek alternatives for the survival of their animals, which are suffering shortages of water and adequate pastures.

In the central province of Ciego de Avila, the use of sugarcane and fruit (oranges and grapefruit) waste as animal feed is on the rise.

In the eastern province of Las Tunas, the reduced water reserves prompted the digging of 146 new wells and construction of 38 windmills to supply water to thirsty cattle.

Official data obtained by Tierramérica indicate that in Cuba 3,400 water sources for livestock have dried up, most of which were found in the area extending from the central province of Camagüey to the eastern tip of the island in Guantánamo province.

 
 

VENEZUELA: River Threatens Capital

CARACAS - A 20-meter gap opened in the cement channel that guides the Guaire River through the Venezuelan capital, and its waters, polluted by the sewage from slum neighborhoods has come into contact with the wall that sustains the canal and the main highway through Caracas.

Recent torrential rains triggered the damage, and big stones and cement blocks have been placed in the hole to prevent the collapse of the highway, used by tens of thousands of vehicles every day.

As part of the emergency effort, the river will be diverted 3.5 meters to a branch in southwest Caracas using pumps.

''It is a serious problem because the gap can only be repaired when dry season begins, in October. And for now the rains continue,'' an Environment Ministry spokesperson told Tierramérica.

 
 

HONDURAS: Micro-Enterprise Recycles Trash

TEGUCIGALPA - Ten Honduran provinces will be part of a Latin American project to produce organic fertilizer and thus reduce pollution, Agriculture Minister Mariano Jiménez told Tierramérica.

The project is an initiative of the Latin American network for appropriate technologies and will be implemented in 45 municipalities through micro-enterprise involved in waste recycling, and will begin this year, said Jiménez.

These micro-businesses will generate local jobs and produce organic fertilizer from waste that is recycled using appropriate, non-polluting technologies. The government says 1,500 direct jobs will be created.

Jiménez said that before launching the project there will be training for the micro-enterprises so that ''the use of environmentally friendly techniques also reduces the rate of illness in the region and raises environmental awareness.''

 
 

GUATEMALA: Fewer Forest Fires

GUATEMALA CITY - Guatemala recorded 368 forest fires from January to early June of this year, just half the 731 that occurred in the same period in 2003.

''We were able to reduce forest fires by 50 percent, and 91 percent less of the forests were burned,'' Eduardo González, head of the presidential secretariat, told Tierramérica.

''This year 7,000 hectares of forest were burned, while last year the total was 83,000,'' said the official, who coordinated the state and private institutions entrusted with disaster prevention plans.

''An important factor,'' he said, ''was that the rains began earlier this year, putting out some of the fires in Petén,'' the country's biggest department, and which holds more than 21,000 square kilometers of forest.

González noted that of the fires reported this year, just 30.8 percent affected protected areas.



* Source: Inter Press Service.


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