CUBA: Mass Disappearance
of Bats Skews Ecological Balance
HAVANA - Between 250,000 and
half a million bats have disappeared from the Gato
Jíbaro cave in the Cuban province of Matanzas, east
of Havana, threatening area plant life, warn specialists.
"It is a major catastrophe. In the best case scenario,
the animals migrated. Worst case -- they died," Ercilio
Vento, president of the Cuban Speleological Society,
A key part of the ecological balance, the flying mammals
consume insects, pollinate plants and disseminate
The bats were forced out by cockroaches that began
invading the cave 10 years ago, attracted by waste
discarded by a nearby food factory. A clean-up of
the waste failed to dislodge the insects.
Cuba is home to 27 of the world’s approximately 2,000
HONDURAS: Green Schools
Look to the Future
TEGUCIGALPA - The Honduran government,
backed by the business community, has introduced the
“Green Schools” project to recover and preserve the
main watersheds near Tegucigalpa.
The one-year project, which will eventually extend
to other areas of the country, was launched Jul. 14
in three of the capital’s elementary schools, and
will next be implemented in high schools. In it, children
and youth between the ages of five and 18 will plant
more than 2,000 trees.
Businessman Emilio Larach, one of the initiative’s
main proponents and financial backers, told Tierramérica
that the activity was not "just a field trip, but
rather an effort to protect natural resources."
The first 200 trees were planted near the Los Laureles
dam, south of Tegucigalpa -- one of the areas worst
affected by deforestation.
CHILE: State-Run Mining
Company Faces Investigation
SANTIAGO - Chile’s Chamber of
Deputies voted unanimously to investigate the state-owned
National Copper Corporation (Codelco), to determine
its responsibilities in polluting the capital’s Carén
The mining company has a tailings reservoir near the
estuary, a body of water that is used for irrigation
and animal consumption.
A reservoir dam breach spilled 10,000 litres of liquid
waste into the estuary, killing cattle and destroying
The coordinator of the non-governmental Sustainable
Chile Program, Sara Larraín, told Tierramérica that
the "molybdenum and sulphate that has contaminated
the entire estuary basin” is just one manifestation
of a serious systemic problem -- the illegal approval
of an environmental decree in 2005, which outlines
waste-disposal parameters for Codelco that are less
stringent than those for other companies.
GUATEMALA CITY - In Guatemala,
an average of 73,148 hectares of forest disappears
each year. The figures come from a Forest Cover Dynamics
map created by the state-run National Forestry Institute
(INB) and National Protected Areas Council and the
private University del Valle.
The project, whose results were released Jul. 17,
is the second of its kind in Guatemala, and expands
on the previous 2001 study (whose results were published
in 2004). The model is based on satellite images,
explained Gerónimo Pérez, coordinator of INB’s Forestry
"A comparison of the two periods showed that the country
lost approximately 0.68 of its forest cover each year,"
the expert told Tierramérica.
The northern department of Petén, bordering Mexico,
suffered the highest deforestation rates -- 65 percent
-- he added.
Two months ago the government launched the “Reverdecer
Guatemala” (Reforesting Guatemala) program, which
aims to plant 30 million trees.
BRAZIL: Clean Air for
Latin American Cities
RIO DE JANEIRO - Sustainable
transport that improves quality of life and reduces
greenhouse gases is the theme of the Clean Air in
Latin American Cities Initiative conference that is
drawing experts, political leaders and environmentalists
to Sao Paulo Jul. 25-27.
The Initiative, a cooperative instrument involving
seven large cities, development agencies, private
businesses, non-governmental organisations and academic
institutions, has worked since 1998 to reduce urban
pollution. The forum promotes training, fosters the
sharing of experiences and technology, and acts as
a catalyst to spark dialogue among the various sectors.
The conference marks the beginning of a new phase,
whose main objective is to “consolidate a regional
strategy to improve air quality,” through an institute
designed to boost membership, funding and action plans,
Sergio Sánchez, executive secretary with the Initiative,
VENEZUELA: Chávez Aims
to Divert Sewage from River
CARACAS - Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez predicted the day will soon come when
he can swim in the emblematic Guaire river, which
flows eastward through Caracas for 53 of its 70 kilometres,
picking up residential and industrial waste along
He made the declaration when outlining clean-up programs
after the recent inauguration of a new city subway
Environment Minister Jacqueline Farías told Tierramérica
that "this dream will be within reach by October,
when a system of new sewage collectors set approximately
halfway down the river is put into operation."
While the system will reduce the flow of the Guaire,
the river will be cleaner.
A treatment plant will be built on the Guaire just
before the point in which it empties into the Tuy
River. The 450-million-dollar project is scheduled
to be completed by 2013, said Farías.