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South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter Edition 100

by Stoner, Larissa A — last modified Jan 10, 2013 10:03 AM
Contributors: rhessmiller
South America ESTH Newsletter 2007 In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only
Agriculture: Scientists Are Making Brazil’s Savannah Bloom; U.S., Brazil and Argentina Form International Soybean Growers Alliance. Health: Dengue Fever Surges in Latin America. Water Issues: Chile: Defending Water against Mining Company. Forests: Brazilian NGOs Propose Plan to Zero out Deforestation; EU and UNDP Finance Sustainable Development Project in Guyana Shields; Forests Produce More Intact than Cleared for Farming, Says Study; Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Receives International Support; Paraguay Declares Fire Emergency. Wildlife: Southern Cone Countries Sign MOU to Preserve Migratory Birds; Venezuela: Aquatic Species Discovered; Venezuela: A Plan to Save the Amphibians; Brazil: Renowned Primatologist Faces 15 Years in Jail. Fishing & Marine Conservation: Chile: Giant Squid Invasion Threatens Hake; Brazil: Video of Dolphin Haul Hastens Gillnet Rules; Ecuador: Shark Measure Costs Correa Green Support; Salmon Farms Also Harming Chilean Lakes, WWF Warns. Protected Areas: Indigenous Group in Guyana Declares Amazon Homeland a Conservation Area; Colombia's Newest Park Protects Rare Wildlife, Indigenous Peoples. Science & Technology: Venezuela: Ministry of S&T US$ 4.3 million for Small Businesses; Colombia Discards Plan to Create Ministry of Science; Uruguay: New Entity and More Funds for Science. Climate Change: Sao Paulo holds Kyoto Protocol “Carbon Market” Auction; Climate Change Reaches Andes and Amazon; Andean Community at Climate Forum. Energy: Chile: CORFO Approves Financing for 53 New Renewable Energy Initiatives; Biofuel Helping to Power Argentine Fishing Vessel. General: Amazon at Risk from Development Plans; Peruvians Don’t Understand the use of Biodiversity, says Study; Scores Ill in Peru 'Meteor Crash'; Brazil Petrobras to Push Production Deeper Into Amazon.

Edition #100!!!

NOTE:  The South America ESTH Newsletter is now also available on the Intranet - http://brasilia.state.gov/hub/default.htm

The calendar for upcoming ESTH events is located here.

The information contained was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts

Agriculture

Scientists Are Making Brazil’s Savannah Bloom

 

OCT. 02, 2007 - Sprawling labs and experimental fields are operated by Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural and livestock research agency, have become an obligatory stop for any third world leader visiting Brazil.  Although little known in North America, Embrapa has in three decades become a world research leader in tropical agriculture and is moving aggressively into areas like biotechnology and bio-energy.  Embrapa owes much of its reputation to its pioneering work here in the cerrado, the vast savannah that stretches for more than 1,000 miles across central Brazil.  Written off as useless for centuries, the region has been transformed in less than a generation into Brazil’s grain belt, thanks to the discovery that soils could be made fertile by dousing them with phosphorus and lime, whose optimum mixture was established by Embrapa scientists.  With the support of multilateral lending and development bodies like the World Bank, Embrapa is also trying to raise its profile abroad. Although it has long had exchange programs that have brought scientists from Latin America, Africa and Asia to work at its laboratories, Embrapa only recently opened its first overseas office, in Ghana, headquarters of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

 

Source – The New York Times

 

U.S., Brazil and Argentina Form International Soybean Growers Alliance

 

SEPT. 11, 2007 - Soybean producers from the US, Brazil, and Argentina signed an agreement to form the International Soybean Growers’ Alliance (ISGA) on August 23 at the Bienal Annual Agricultural Conference in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso. The ISGA is a component of the Global Grower Development Agreements signed between the North and South American Soybean Producer organizations in 2006.  The ISGA is a major step forward in building cooperation among competitive industry organizations.  Disputes regarding agricultural subsidies and royalties for Roundup Ready Soybean Seed have made a dialogue between the countries difficult in recent years.  These countries are responsible for more than 80% of global soybean production.  Executives expect to integrate Paraguay and tentatively other soybean-producing countries into the alliance as well.  IGSA is a conglomeration of the major producer associations: American Soybean Association International Marketing (ASAIM), US Soybean

Export Council (USSEC), the United Soybean Board (USB), Soybean Producers Association of Mato Grosso (APROSOJA), and the Soybean Chain Association of Argentina (ACSOJA).  The group aspires to work together in several areas and anticipates that a collective voice will increase their effectiveness in Marketing, resolving technical barriers to trade, and improving their environmental image.

 

Source - http://www.cattlenetwork.com

 

Health     

Dengue Fever Surges in Latin America

 

SEP. 30, 2007 - Dengue fever is spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean in one of the worst outbreaks in decades, causing agonizing joint pain for hundreds of thousands of people and killing nearly 200 so far this year.  The mosquitoes that carry dengue are thriving in expanded urban slums scattered with water-collecting trash and old tires.  Experts say dengue is approaching record levels this year as many countries enter their wettest months.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has posted advisories this year for people visiting Latin American and Caribbean destinations to use mosquito repellant and stay inside screened areas whenever possible.  So far this year, 630,356 dengue cases have been reported in the Americas - most in Brazil, Venezuela, or Colombia - with 12,147 cases of hemorrhagic fever and 183 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

 

Source – Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com

 

Water Issues

Chile: Defending Water against Mining Company

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - Los Caimanes, a small rural community in northern Chile, launched a signature collection campaign to convince the government to prohibit a big mining company from building a reservoir that would contaminate the area's aquifers, the only local source of potable water.  The reservoir of Los Pelambres mine would receive 1.7 million tons of toxins, like arsenic, strontium, silicon oxide, chloride, lead and sulfur, above the underground water sources, said Naira Huerta, resident of the community located 280 km north of Santiago.  The region ''suffers prolonged droughts, our streams usually evaporate before they reach us.  We resolved the problem when we found the aquifers eight kilometers from our town,'' said Huerta. 

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Forests

Brazilian NGOs Propose Plan to Zero out Deforestation

 

OCT. 04, 2007 - A group of nine environmental NGOs announced a plan to zero out the deforestation of the Amazon region in seven years.  The plan calls for a significant increase in federal spending in this area, to R$1 billion a year, to create a fund to compensate landowners in the region who maintain standing forests. The plan received support from the governors of the Amazon states of Amazonas, Amapá and Mato Grosso.

 

Source – Public Affairs US Embassy Brasilia

 

EU and UNDP Finance Sustainable Development Project in Guyana Shields

 

OCT. 09, 2007 - The European Union has partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of the Netherlands to implement a sustainable management of the Guyana Shield Eco-region.  The project, phase two, is funded in the amount of 2.243M Euros and the sponsors are the European Union, the Dutch Government, the UNDP and the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands. In Guyana, the Iwokrama forest has been selected for the pilot study. Other countries in the project are Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana.  The project, which the UNDP is executing in 42 months, aims to promote the sustainable development of the Guiana Shield by means of an integrated eco-region management framework and to enable the six countries and their associated local communities to benefit from their natural resources. Project activities focus on pilot projects for testing of mechanisms for compensation for the provision of environmental services, as well as culturally appropriate management contracts, benefit sharing and monitoring schemes.

 

Source – Stabroek News http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=56530601

 

Forests Produce More Intact than Cleared for Farming, Says Study

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - The Amazon forests that remain intact are more ''competitive'' than farming in this globalized economy, according to a doctoral thesis recently approved by the University of Brasilia. Making the argument is Ecio Rodrigues, a forestry engineer with 18 years of practical experience in the northern state of Acre, in the Brazilian Amazon. Proving the economic advantages of sustainable exploitation of the forests over converting them to farmland is essential for halting deforestation, destroying the Amazon for agriculture, ranching and logging, says Roberto Smeraldi, coordinator of Friends of the Earth-Brazilian Amazon.  Advances in sustainable management and extraction of forest products have failed so far to stop deforestation, which this year will claim more than the 23,700 square km cleared in 2003.  Rodrigues's thesis, which draws on 300 books and articles about concrete experiences in Acre, is motivation for the environmental effort, but now the challenge is to convince those who are destroying the forest to stop.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Receives International Support

 

SEPT. 11, 2007 - One of Brazil’s most threatened Important Bird Areas (IBAs), Boa Nova IBA, is to benefit from a new project that will develop management plans with local people to promote sustainable use of forest resources.  Forest Conservation Project in Atlantic Tropical Forest is part of an international collaboration led by BirdLife’s Asia Division, funded and supported by Ricoh Co. Ltd, to be implemented on the ground by SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil).  Boa Nova is located in the southwestern part of the Bahia state, and has been famous among ornithologists for decades due to its unique and diverse bird community -359 in all, 10 of them globally threatened- a result of the fact that two biomes overlap: lush montane Atlantic Forest on one side, Caatinga (Brazilian semi-arid vegetation) the other.  The new project comes just in time; a great part of original forest habitat has been destroyed in the region, largely driven by firewood gathering, illegal deforestation, clearance for plantations, slash-and-burn processes, overgrazing, and undeveloped land utilization plans.

In 2006, Boa Nova IBA was singled out as one of sixteen Brazilian IBAs (out of 163) “in a critical situation [that] continue suffering direct (illegal capture, hunting) or indirect (environment destruction) aggressions” according to SAVE Brasil.

 

Source – Birdlife International www.birdlife.org

 

Paraguay Declares Fire Emergency

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - The government of Paraguay has declared a state of emergency after large fires destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land. The country's President, Nicanor Duarte, issued the decree after the fires worsened in four provinces. A Russian water tanker plane has been contracted by the Paraguayan government to help battle the fires. The fires have been partly blamed on land-clearing and burning by subsistence farmers. Mr Duarte, who has been criticized for reacting too slowly, said the state would pay to rent a Russian water-carrying aircraft that was used to fight devastating blazes that swept Greece in August.  "With this plane, we'll be stepping up the government's work in the northern zone," he told reporters. Most of the fires were blamed on farmers deliberately setting small blazes to clear lands for cotton and soybean crop planting.

 

Source - BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6992374.stm

 

Wildlife

Southern Cone Countries Sign MOU to Preserve Migratory Birds

 

OCT. 15, 2007 – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Migratory Grassland Bird Conservation in Southern South America.  The signing occurred during a meeting of decision makers, sponsored by UNEP and the Ramsar Convention, August 25-28 in Panama.

 

Source -   UNEP/CMS

 

Venezuela: Aquatic Species Discovered

SEPT. 12, 2007- Two fish species, five new types of crustaceans and two micromollusks were found in the delta of the Orinoco River, in northeast Venezuela, by researchers from the LaSalle Foundation for the Natural Sciences.  ''We have already registered the new species and the report with international programs.  These discoveries confirm that Venezuela is a 'megadiverse' country,'' Daniel Novoa, director of the Environment Ministry's Delta Project, told Tierramérica.  The Orinoco Delta is a fragile ecosystem of marshes that are home to more than 220 animal species. Since 1991, 30,000 of the delta's 40,000 square km have been part of the Man and Biosphere Program of the United Nations.  The research effort also determined that many of the delta species are threatened by unregulated fishing practices, particularly dragnet fishing.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Venezuela: A Plan to Save the Amphibians

 

SEPT. 24, 2007- Scientific and environmental institutions drafted a plan to protect the 320 species of toads, frogs and salamanders (five percent of the world's total) that live in Venezuela.  Many of them are on the way to extinction in the deteriorated habitats -- forests and bodies of water -- where they are endemic.  The Ministry of Environment is reviewing the plan, which calls for an amphibian conservation laboratory, tracking of species, educational campaigns and the inclusion of herpetology in the training of biologists, says Celsa Señaris, of the La Salle Natural Science Foundation.

 

Source- Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=188

 

Brazil: Renowned Primatologist Faces 15 Years in Jail

 

AUG. 2007 - As his friends will admit, Dutch-born primatologist and conservation advocate Marc van Roosmalen is not a stickler for rules. Says pharmacist Jan Kaiser, who has known van Roosmalen since 1985: “He has a history of ignoring red lights. Once he borrowed my car and the low-oil light lit up. He ignored the red light and blew the engine.”  Van Roosmalen has discovered several new monkey species, often by spending months searching barefoot for them in the Brazilian rainforest. But he also has collected enemies on account of his unorthodox methods and anarchic disregard for bureaucracy. Chief among them is the Amazonas state federal prosecutor’s office, which recently persuaded a Brazilian judge to sentence the scientist to a prison term of 15 years and nine months.  The prosecutor’s office originally charged van Roosmalen in 2003 with keeping monkeys without permits, selling naming rights to species he had discovered and misappropriating scaffolding. His conviction and sentencing came on June 6 of this year. He was jailed on June 15, spending his 60th birthday behind bars, but was released Aug. 7 pending an appeal.  The punishment has shocked scientists and green advocates, who contend first-time environmental-law offenders in Brazil rarely are imprisoned even for far more serious crimes. Van Roosmalen’s supporters say his sentence is particularly unfair considering he has spent his professional life protecting primate habitat.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Fishing & Marine Conservation

Chile: Giant Squid Invasion Threatens Hake

OCT. 3, 2007 - An invasion of predatory Humboldt squid into northern Pacific waters is decimating hake catches in the Pacific Ocean, including along Chile’s coast.  This is the conclusion of an extensive study carried out over 19 years by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).  Although there has long been speculation that Humboldt squid have been expanding their range, the study, led by Bruce Robison senior scientist at MBARI, provides the first scientific records to back this up.  The study surmised that the squid have profited from falling numbers of billfish and large tuna in the area. “Ironically, these squid may have benefited from the decline of large tuna and billfish in the Equatorial Pacific, which previously preyed upon and competed with the Humboldt squid for food.”  This expansion poses a serious threat to Pacific hake, an important commercial fish for Chile, as it is a favorite part of the squid’s diet.   According to statistics from IFOP (Institute for Fishing Promotion), in 2002 the estimated hake biomass around Chile’s coasts was 1.5 million tons. But in 2004, the figure had been reduced to 272,000 tons.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Brazil: Video of Dolphin Haul Hastens Gillnet Rules

 

AUG. 2007 - The recent nationwide airing of a video showing Brazilian fishermen hauling in and joking about 83 dolphins that had drowned in their nets has forced environmental authorities here to speed implementation of tough gillnet fishing restrictions.  The video was made by a consultant hired by Ibama, Brazil’s environmental-enforcement agency, to gauge the impact of gillnet fishing on certain fish species that did not include dolphins. The consultant, whose identity has not been made public, shot the footage while collecting this data aboard a fishing vessel off the northeastern state of Amapá—near where the Amazon River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.  The airing of the video prompted Ibama to accelerate implementation of the new gillnet regulations, which took effect on July 19.  The new rules affect gillnet fishing throughout Brazil’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Before they were issued, the only limitations on such fishing concerned the length of gillnets (no more than 2.5 kilometers, or 4.16 miles), and the size of fish that could be kept and sold (a restriction that varied depending on the species). Clemerson Pinheiro, Ibama’s coordinator of commercial fishing management, says the rules reflect an international trend toward the restriction and in some cases prohibition of driftnet fishing. He adds Ibama also plans to tighten controls on bottom trawling, but not on the other commercial fishing slated to remain legal—purse-seine fishing and longlining.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Ecuador: Shark Measure Costs Correa Green Support

 

AUG. 2008 - Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a former university professor of environmental economics, has seen his honeymoon with green groups suffer since he decided last month to loosen a ban on shark-fin sales.  Under Correa’s July 20 decision, fishermen who happen to catch sharks while pursuing other species will be allowed to sell fins from this “incidental” catch. Environmental groups complain the measure invites abuses, and news reports from various Ecuadorian ports suggest shark landings are on the rise.  Ecuadorian advocacy groups are pressing Correa to reverse course, pointing out that the lucrative shark-fin trade has contributed to a rapid decline in shark populations worldwide.  In Guayaquil, critics have expressed their opposition by painting images of sharks on city streets. In Quito, graffiti has appeared in public places announcing, “sharks now belong to everyone,” a play on Correa’s presidential campaign slogan (“the nation now belongs to everyone”). The graffiti also features the line, “I exchange fins for votes,” suggesting Correa’s shark-fin step was meant to gain support from fishermen in Sept. 30 elections that will set the stage for a rewrite of Ecuador’s constitution.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Salmon Farms Also Harming Chilean Lakes, WWF Warns

 

AUG. 2007 - The conservation group WWF says salmon farming, typically associated with contamination of coastal inlets, is also causing significant environmental damage to Chilean lakes.  In a report released last month, WWF calls on farm operators to move production of salmon smolt from lakes to closed-containment systems on land.  Salmon-smolt production on Chilean lakes has doubled over the past ten years even though Chile’s 1991 Fishing Law prohibited further such production and even though government-sponsored ecological studies in the mid-1990s recommended a reduction in the practice.  WWF’s report points out that Norway, the world’s leading salmon-farming nation, has a competitive trade advantage due to its stricter environmental regulations, particularly concerning lake ecosystems.  It estimates a complete transition from lakes to closed containment facilities on land would require an investment of about US$43 million, which it says represents just 2% of Chile’s total salmon export revenues.   One of Chile’s biggest producers, Marine Harvest Chile, collaborated with the study and announced it will replace its lake facilities with closed containment centers on land.  It says it already operates three such centers in Chile.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Protected Areas

Indigenous Group in Guyana Declares Amazon Homeland a Conservation Area

 

OCT.4, 2007 - An indigenous group in Guyana, backed by government decree, has banned miners and loggers from its section of the Amazon jungle and pledged to pursue an economic strategy based on ecotourism, research and traditional crafts.  The leader of the Wai Wai said the group has developed a management plan for their homeland in remote southern Guyana, near the border with Brazil, which is intended to preserve forest, create jobs and keep young people from leaving for cities.  The Wai Wai received control of the 2,400 square miles (6,200 square kilometers) of tropical forest and savanna from Guyana's government in 2004. It is habitat to rare animals including the jaguar, blue poison frog and scarlet macaw.  Under the plan outlined at the [Bariloche] conference [on Protected Areas], some of the Wai Wai's 200 members would train to become forest rangers or to help researchers studying plants and animals of the rainforest.  The group developed the strategy with Guyana's government and Washington-based Conservation International, which set up a US$1 million trust to help manage the area.

 

Source – International Herald Tribune www.iht.com

 

Colombia's Newest Park Protects Rare Wildlife, Indigenous Peoples

 

AUG. 31, 2007 - The government of Colombia has created a new national park for the protection of one of the greatest areas of biodiversity in the country, inhabited by such rare and endangered animals as the Andean bear, jaguar, puma and tapir.  The new park stretches from the lowlands of the Amazon Basin to the slopes of the Andean Mountains, covering 97,180 hectares, or 375 square miles.  In addition to several agencies of the Colombian government, the park was created with the assistance of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through the project Piedemonte Andino-Amazonico Colombia, the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Global Environment Facility, and the United Nations, WWF Colombia and the Institute of Etnobiología.  According to Colombia’s Minister of Environment Juan Lozano Ramirez, in 2008 Colombia's National System of Natural Parks will have the largest financial investment in its history.

 

Source – ENS http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-31-02.asp

 

Science & Technology

Venezuela: Ministry of S&T US$ 4.3 million for Small Businesses

 

OCT. 04, 2007 – Venezuela’s Ministry of Science and Technology has allocated US$4.3 million for the development of 20 technological prototypes proposed by small business enterprises in areas such as petroleum, gas, energy, metal mechanics industry, health, and education.  According to the Ministry, this is the fourth cohort of projects that have received this type of financing and a total of sixty initiatives have been approved to receive these resources.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3954&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Colombia Discards Plan to Create Ministry of Science

 

OCT. 02, 2007 – The Government of Colombia has removed its support for the creation of a Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, a project presented to Congress last July.  According to the press report, this does not, however, mean that support for scientific activities will be paralyzed.  A new legislation to regulate science and technology is currently being proposed, which will focus of three main points: 1) stable financing, independent from the national budget and will not change with changing governments; 2) administrative issues, such as intellectual property rights; and 3) institutional strengthening of the National S&T System (Colciencias) as a policies manager.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3942&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Uruguay: New Entity and More Funds for Science

 

SEPT. 16, 2007 – Uruguay has launched the National Agency for Innovation (ANII, in Spanish), which, according to the press report, will have nine times more resources to invest in Research and Development (R&D).  The new entity, which was presented on September 12, will have seven members in it board of directors and will be subordinate to the President‘s office.  ANII will organize, develop, and evaluate programs to develop science and technology, bring together researches and business entities, and support the elaboration of public policies.  According to one of the members of the board of directors, the budget for R&D will reach USD21 million in 2008 – one percent of the country’s GDP.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3898&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Climate Change

Sao Paulo holds Kyoto Protocol “Carbon Market” Auction

 

SEPT. 27, 2007 - A bank from the Netherlands has emerged as the winning bidder in an auction which marks a new phase in the global "carbon market" reports the BBC. Fortis Bank has paid more than 13m Euros for the rights to emit 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide, in the first such auction to be held in a regulated exchange, the Brazilian Mercantile and Futures Exchange. The credits were held by the city government of Sao Paulo, in recognition of a project to prevent methane escaping into the atmosphere from a massive garbage tip in the city, the largest landfill site in Latin America.  A system of more than 40km of pipes extracts the methane from wells dug into the garbage mountain, using suction machines to pull it to a plant at the edge of the site where 80% is used to power electric generators, and the remainder burned at high temperature.  The plant supplies some 20MW of electricity to the grid, enough to supply the needs of some 400,000 Brazilians.  The private company which operates the methane collection system, Biogas, insists that it was only economically viable because of the cash that would become available through selling the carbon credits to European buyers.  Sao Paulo City announced it will use the proceeds from the auction for a series of environmental improvements such as parks and cycle-ways in the poor neighborhood surrounding the landfill site. The area includes some of the most extensive slums in the metropolis.

 

Source - MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=11464&formato=html

 

Climate Change Reaches Andes and Amazon

 

SEPT. 19, 2007 – Melting glaciers, changes in rainfall patterns, increasing temperatures, and increasing droughts and floods are the first indicators of climate change in the Andean and Amazon regions and has had devastating effects on agriculture, said experts during an international meeting organized by the Andean Community (CAN) in Lima, September 11-13.  The aim of the event was to elaborate an analysis and offer guidance on the mitigation of agricultural risks related to climate variability, as well as identify financial mechanisms and policies that can be applied to the agricultural sector to reduce the consequences of climate change.  Strategies to mitigate effects include education campaigns for rural communities, incentives to reduce crops that consume large amounts of water (e.g. rice), introduction of improved varieties, and the creation of efficient systems for climate alerts.  These recommendations will be presented at the Latin American Congress on Climate Change in Guayaquil and Quito, October 15-18.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3904&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Andean Community at Climate Forum

 

OCT. 15, 2007 - Representatives from member countries of the Andean Community (CAN) are meeting in Quito to analyze effects of climate change in the region, and ways to jointly alleviate this global problem.  The forum, entitled Latin Climate, will session October 15-16 in Guayaquil, and October 17-18 in Quito.  This will be "the first grand international meeting on climate change in Latin America, where the civil society, national authorities, and world institutions will assess problems caused by global warming," CAN general secretary Freddy Ehlers stressed.  Ehlers highlighted that the recommendations made in this summit will be brought to the International Conference on Climate Change in December in Bali, Indonesia.

 

Source – Prensa Latina http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7b95C67F5A-E8CA-446A-BBDF-F26CB06B4201%7d)&language=EN

 

 

Energy

Chile: CORFO Approves Financing for 53 New Renewable Energy Initiatives

SEPT. 6, 2007 -  Chile’ Economic Development Agency (CORFO) announced that it will finance feasibility studies for 53 new renewable energy projects around the country.  This figure is up from the 40 renewable energy projects that the agency funded in 2006 and it serves as yet another indicator that Chile is opening up to renewable sources of energy.  Of the 53 new renewable energy projects, 29 are wind power, 14 are hydraulic, five are geothermal, two are bio-mass and three are bio-gas.  Additionally, CORFO will host the second International Conference on Energy Invention, set to take place at Santiago’s Hotel Crowne Plaza November 14, 15 and 16.  This announcement comes on the heels of more positive news concerning the development of alternative sources of energy in Chile. Authorities announced in August that 23 wind energy parks are now undergoing feasibility studies at various points around Chile.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Biofuel Helping to Power Argentine Fishing Vessel

 

AUG. 2007 - A 115-foot (35-meter) Argentine fishing vessel departed the Patagonian port of Comodoro Rivadavia on July 17 and returned a week later with 80 tons of shrimp in its hold. Of more interest than the catch, though, was the vessel’s fuel, which included 5,000 liters of biodiesel made from squid- and hake-processing waste, seaweed and wild rose bushes. The biodiesel formed only a small part of the fuel supply of the vessel, named Codepeca I and owned by the Argentine fishing company Harengus.  Nevertheless, it reflects efforts in Argentina to develop alternatives to the most common biofuel feedstock here—soy oil.  For the past three years, private companies here have been working on pilot projects aimed at extracting seaweed oil for use in biofuel, for instance.  They’ve done so with help from the Chubut Center for Energies, an institution created by the government of Chubut province for the purpose of offering financial and material help to private companies developing biofuels.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

General

Amazon at Risk from Development Plans

 

OCT. 09, 2007 - The Amazon jungle is at risk from planned developments in transportation, energy and telecommunication, warn scientists.  A report, published October 1st, by Conservation International scientist Timothy Killeen, addresses the plans of the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA).  The IIRSA is an initiative of twelve South American countries to connect regions isolated by the Amazon wilderness to improve trade throughout the continent and make agricultural commodities, biofuels, and industrial minerals more competitive in international markets.  It plans to invest in highways linking the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts and improve river transportation, hydroelectric dams and telecommunication in the Amazon.  Killeen advocates environmentally friendly solutions, such as using the intact Amazon forest to generate carbon credits; planting biofuel crops such as sugar cane on the 65 million hectares of already deforested land; and making use of the Amazon's abundant water for fish farming.

 

NOTE: The HUB has a PDF copy of the report and will be pleased to share with anyone interested.

 

Source - Science Development Network

 

Peruvians Don’t Understand the use of Biodiversity, says Study

 

SEPT. 27, 2007 – Peruvians are aware of the loss of biodiversity, but are unable to identify the problems and needs related to this loss and don’t know how biodiversity could contribute to improve their quality of living.  This was revealed by a study on the technological needs and demands of the Peruvian population, presented September 20 in Lima.  The study, carried out by RAMP-Peru, covered three Andean regions with extraordinary biodiversity: Cusco, Cajamarca, and Puno.  The conclusion shows that when it comes to agriculture, water, and energy, the population understands more clearly its needs and the technological products which can satisfy those needs.  And although the technological demands are broad, most involve innovation rather than specific technological products.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3929&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Scores Ill in Peru 'Meteor Crash'

 

SEPT. 19, 2007 - Hundreds of people in Peru have needed treatment after an object from space - said to be a meteorite - plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say.  They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down near the town of Carancas in the Andes. People who visited the scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.  But some experts have questioned whether it was a meteorite or some other object that landed in Carancas.  "Increasingly we think that people witnessed a fireball, which are not uncommon, went off to investigate and found a lake of sedimentary deposit, which may be full of smelly, methane rich organic matter," said Dr Caroline Smith, a meteorite expert at the London-based Natural History Museum.

 

Source – BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7001897.stm   

 

Brazil Petrobras to Push Production Deeper Into Amazon

 

SEPT. 3, 2007 - Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, plans to start producing natural gas from fields deeper into the Amazon rain forest, according to Exploration and Production Director Guilherme Estrella.  In order to maintain a 20-year contract to provide the Amazonas state capital Manaus with 5.5 million cubic meters of gas a day, the company plans to start production at three fields that lie between 150 and 200 kilometers west of its already producing Amazon unit of Urucu.  Petrobras had discovered those fields - Jurua, Jaraqui and Sao Mateus - more than 30 years ago, but so far hasn't started output there due to their remote location in deep Amazon rainforest.  The company plans to drill 23 new exploration wells in the Solimoes and Amazonas region in the Amazon, mostly in the new fields.  Environmental groups have complained about Petrobras' presence in the middle of the Amazon in the past, and court battles have blocked the construction of the Urucu-Porto Velho pipeline for years.

 

Source – Dow Jones Newswire

Agriculture

Scientists Are Making Brazil’s Savannah Bloom

 

OCT. 02, 2007 - Sprawling labs and experimental fields are operated by Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural and livestock research agency, have become an obligatory stop for any third world leader visiting Brazil.  Although little known in North America, Embrapa has in three decades become a world research leader in tropical agriculture and is moving aggressively into areas like biotechnology and bio-energy.  Embrapa owes much of its reputation to its pioneering work here in the cerrado, the vast savannah that stretches for more than 1,000 miles across central Brazil.  Written off as useless for centuries, the region has been transformed in less than a generation into Brazil’s grain belt, thanks to the discovery that soils could be made fertile by dousing them with phosphorus and lime, whose optimum mixture was established by Embrapa scientists.  With the support of multilateral lending and development bodies like the World Bank, Embrapa is also trying to raise its profile abroad. Although it has long had exchange programs that have brought scientists from Latin America, Africa and Asia to work at its laboratories, Embrapa only recently opened its first overseas office, in Ghana, headquarters of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

 

Source – The New York Times

 

U.S., Brazil and Argentina Form International Soybean Growers Alliance

 

SEPT. 11, 2007 - Soybean producers from the US, Brazil, and Argentina signed an agreement to form the International Soybean Growers’ Alliance (ISGA) on August 23 at the Bienal Annual Agricultural Conference in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso. The ISGA is a component of the Global Grower Development Agreements signed between the North and South American Soybean Producer organizations in 2006.  The ISGA is a major step forward in building cooperation among competitive industry organizations.  Disputes regarding agricultural subsidies and royalties for Roundup Ready Soybean Seed have made a dialogue between the countries difficult in recent years.  These countries are responsible for more than 80% of global soybean production.  Executives expect to integrate Paraguay and tentatively other soybean-producing countries into the alliance as well.  IGSA is a conglomeration of the major producer associations: American Soybean Association International Marketing (ASAIM), US Soybean

Export Council (USSEC), the United Soybean Board (USB), Soybean Producers Association of Mato Grosso (APROSOJA), and the Soybean Chain Association of Argentina (ACSOJA).  The group aspires to work together in several areas and anticipates that a collective voice will increase their effectiveness in Marketing, resolving technical barriers to trade, and improving their environmental image.

 

Source - http://www.cattlenetwork.com

 

Health     

Dengue Fever Surges in Latin America

 

SEP. 30, 2007 - Dengue fever is spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean in one of the worst outbreaks in decades, causing agonizing joint pain for hundreds of thousands of people and killing nearly 200 so far this year.  The mosquitoes that carry dengue are thriving in expanded urban slums scattered with water-collecting trash and old tires.  Experts say dengue is approaching record levels this year as many countries enter their wettest months.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has posted advisories this year for people visiting Latin American and Caribbean destinations to use mosquito repellant and stay inside screened areas whenever possible.  So far this year, 630,356 dengue cases have been reported in the Americas - most in Brazil, Venezuela, or Colombia - with 12,147 cases of hemorrhagic fever and 183 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

 

Source – Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com

 

Water Issues

Chile: Defending Water against Mining Company

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - Los Caimanes, a small rural community in northern Chile, launched a signature collection campaign to convince the government to prohibit a big mining company from building a reservoir that would contaminate the area's aquifers, the only local source of potable water.  The reservoir of Los Pelambres mine would receive 1.7 million tons of toxins, like arsenic, strontium, silicon oxide, chloride, lead and sulfur, above the underground water sources, said Naira Huerta, resident of the community located 280 km north of Santiago.  The region ''suffers prolonged droughts, our streams usually evaporate before they reach us.  We resolved the problem when we found the aquifers eight kilometers from our town,'' said Huerta. 

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Forests

Brazilian NGOs Propose Plan to Zero out Deforestation

 

OCT. 04, 2007 - A group of nine environmental NGOs announced a plan to zero out the deforestation of the Amazon region in seven years.  The plan calls for a significant increase in federal spending in this area, to R$1 billion a year, to create a fund to compensate landowners in the region who maintain standing forests. The plan received support from the governors of the Amazon states of Amazonas, Amapá and Mato Grosso.

 

Source – Public Affairs US Embassy Brasilia

 

EU and UNDP Finance Sustainable Development Project in Guyana Shields

 

OCT. 09, 2007 - The European Union has partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of the Netherlands to implement a sustainable management of the Guyana Shield Eco-region.  The project, phase two, is funded in the amount of 2.243M Euros and the sponsors are the European Union, the Dutch Government, the UNDP and the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands. In Guyana, the Iwokrama forest has been selected for the pilot study. Other countries in the project are Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana.  The project, which the UNDP is executing in 42 months, aims to promote the sustainable development of the Guiana Shield by means of an integrated eco-region management framework and to enable the six countries and their associated local communities to benefit from their natural resources. Project activities focus on pilot projects for testing of mechanisms for compensation for the provision of environmental services, as well as culturally appropriate management contracts, benefit sharing and monitoring schemes.

 

Source – Stabroek News http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=56530601

 

Forests Produce More Intact than Cleared for Farming, Says Study

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - The Amazon forests that remain intact are more ''competitive'' than farming in this globalized economy, according to a doctoral thesis recently approved by the University of Brasilia. Making the argument is Ecio Rodrigues, a forestry engineer with 18 years of practical experience in the northern state of Acre, in the Brazilian Amazon. Proving the economic advantages of sustainable exploitation of the forests over converting them to farmland is essential for halting deforestation, destroying the Amazon for agriculture, ranching and logging, says Roberto Smeraldi, coordinator of Friends of the Earth-Brazilian Amazon.  Advances in sustainable management and extraction of forest products have failed so far to stop deforestation, which this year will claim more than the 23,700 square km cleared in 2003.  Rodrigues's thesis, which draws on 300 books and articles about concrete experiences in Acre, is motivation for the environmental effort, but now the challenge is to convince those who are destroying the forest to stop.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Receives International Support

 

SEPT. 11, 2007 - One of Brazil’s most threatened Important Bird Areas (IBAs), Boa Nova IBA, is to benefit from a new project that will develop management plans with local people to promote sustainable use of forest resources.  Forest Conservation Project in Atlantic Tropical Forest is part of an international collaboration led by BirdLife’s Asia Division, funded and supported by Ricoh Co. Ltd, to be implemented on the ground by SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil).  Boa Nova is located in the southwestern part of the Bahia state, and has been famous among ornithologists for decades due to its unique and diverse bird community -359 in all, 10 of them globally threatened- a result of the fact that two biomes overlap: lush montane Atlantic Forest on one side, Caatinga (Brazilian semi-arid vegetation) the other.  The new project comes just in time; a great part of original forest habitat has been destroyed in the region, largely driven by firewood gathering, illegal deforestation, clearance for plantations, slash-and-burn processes, overgrazing, and undeveloped land utilization plans.

In 2006, Boa Nova IBA was singled out as one of sixteen Brazilian IBAs (out of 163) “in a critical situation [that] continue suffering direct (illegal capture, hunting) or indirect (environment destruction) aggressions” according to SAVE Brasil.

 

Source – Birdlife International www.birdlife.org

 

Paraguay Declares Fire Emergency

 

SEPT. 12, 2007 - The government of Paraguay has declared a state of emergency after large fires destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land. The country's President, Nicanor Duarte, issued the decree after the fires worsened in four provinces. A Russian water tanker plane has been contracted by the Paraguayan government to help battle the fires. The fires have been partly blamed on land-clearing and burning by subsistence farmers. Mr Duarte, who has been criticized for reacting too slowly, said the state would pay to rent a Russian water-carrying aircraft that was used to fight devastating blazes that swept Greece in August.  "With this plane, we'll be stepping up the government's work in the northern zone," he told reporters. Most of the fires were blamed on farmers deliberately setting small blazes to clear lands for cotton and soybean crop planting.

 

Source - BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6992374.stm

 

Wildlife

Southern Cone Countries Sign MOU to Preserve Migratory Birds

 

OCT. 15, 2007 – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Migratory Grassland Bird Conservation in Southern South America.  The signing occurred during a meeting of decision makers, sponsored by UNEP and the Ramsar Convention, August 25-28 in Panama.

 

Source -   UNEP/CMS

 

Venezuela: Aquatic Species Discovered

SEPT. 12, 2007- Two fish species, five new types of crustaceans and two micromollusks were found in the delta of the Orinoco River, in northeast Venezuela, by researchers from the LaSalle Foundation for the Natural Sciences.  ''We have already registered the new species and the report with international programs.  These discoveries confirm that Venezuela is a 'megadiverse' country,'' Daniel Novoa, director of the Environment Ministry's Delta Project, told Tierramérica.  The Orinoco Delta is a fragile ecosystem of marshes that are home to more than 220 animal species. Since 1991, 30,000 of the delta's 40,000 square km have been part of the Man and Biosphere Program of the United Nations.  The research effort also determined that many of the delta species are threatened by unregulated fishing practices, particularly dragnet fishing.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=177

 

Venezuela: A Plan to Save the Amphibians

 

SEPT. 24, 2007- Scientific and environmental institutions drafted a plan to protect the 320 species of toads, frogs and salamanders (five percent of the world's total) that live in Venezuela.  Many of them are on the way to extinction in the deteriorated habitats -- forests and bodies of water -- where they are endemic.  The Ministry of Environment is reviewing the plan, which calls for an amphibian conservation laboratory, tracking of species, educational campaigns and the inclusion of herpetology in the training of biologists, says Celsa Señaris, of the La Salle Natural Science Foundation.

 

Source- Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=188

 

Brazil: Renowned Primatologist Faces 15 Years in Jail

 

AUG. 2007 - As his friends will admit, Dutch-born primatologist and conservation advocate Marc van Roosmalen is not a stickler for rules. Says pharmacist Jan Kaiser, who has known van Roosmalen since 1985: “He has a history of ignoring red lights. Once he borrowed my car and the low-oil light lit up. He ignored the red light and blew the engine.”  Van Roosmalen has discovered several new monkey species, often by spending months searching barefoot for them in the Brazilian rainforest. But he also has collected enemies on account of his unorthodox methods and anarchic disregard for bureaucracy. Chief among them is the Amazonas state federal prosecutor’s office, which recently persuaded a Brazilian judge to sentence the scientist to a prison term of 15 years and nine months.  The prosecutor’s office originally charged van Roosmalen in 2003 with keeping monkeys without permits, selling naming rights to species he had discovered and misappropriating scaffolding. His conviction and sentencing came on June 6 of this year. He was jailed on June 15, spending his 60th birthday behind bars, but was released Aug. 7 pending an appeal.  The punishment has shocked scientists and green advocates, who contend first-time environmental-law offenders in Brazil rarely are imprisoned even for far more serious crimes. Van Roosmalen’s supporters say his sentence is particularly unfair considering he has spent his professional life protecting primate habitat.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Fishing & Marine Conservation

Chile: Giant Squid Invasion Threatens Hake

OCT. 3, 2007 - An invasion of predatory Humboldt squid into northern Pacific waters is decimating hake catches in the Pacific Ocean, including along Chile’s coast.  This is the conclusion of an extensive study carried out over 19 years by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).  Although there has long been speculation that Humboldt squid have been expanding their range, the study, led by Bruce Robison senior scientist at MBARI, provides the first scientific records to back this up.  The study surmised that the squid have profited from falling numbers of billfish and large tuna in the area. “Ironically, these squid may have benefited from the decline of large tuna and billfish in the Equatorial Pacific, which previously preyed upon and competed with the Humboldt squid for food.”  This expansion poses a serious threat to Pacific hake, an important commercial fish for Chile, as it is a favorite part of the squid’s diet.   According to statistics from IFOP (Institute for Fishing Promotion), in 2002 the estimated hake biomass around Chile’s coasts was 1.5 million tons. But in 2004, the figure had been reduced to 272,000 tons.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Brazil: Video of Dolphin Haul Hastens Gillnet Rules

 

AUG. 2007 - The recent nationwide airing of a video showing Brazilian fishermen hauling in and joking about 83 dolphins that had drowned in their nets has forced environmental authorities here to speed implementation of tough gillnet fishing restrictions.  The video was made by a consultant hired by Ibama, Brazil’s environmental-enforcement agency, to gauge the impact of gillnet fishing on certain fish species that did not include dolphins. The consultant, whose identity has not been made public, shot the footage while collecting this data aboard a fishing vessel off the northeastern state of Amapá—near where the Amazon River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.  The airing of the video prompted Ibama to accelerate implementation of the new gillnet regulations, which took effect on July 19.  The new rules affect gillnet fishing throughout Brazil’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Before they were issued, the only limitations on such fishing concerned the length of gillnets (no more than 2.5 kilometers, or 4.16 miles), and the size of fish that could be kept and sold (a restriction that varied depending on the species). Clemerson Pinheiro, Ibama’s coordinator of commercial fishing management, says the rules reflect an international trend toward the restriction and in some cases prohibition of driftnet fishing. He adds Ibama also plans to tighten controls on bottom trawling, but not on the other commercial fishing slated to remain legal—purse-seine fishing and longlining.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Ecuador: Shark Measure Costs Correa Green Support

 

AUG. 2008 - Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a former university professor of environmental economics, has seen his honeymoon with green groups suffer since he decided last month to loosen a ban on shark-fin sales.  Under Correa’s July 20 decision, fishermen who happen to catch sharks while pursuing other species will be allowed to sell fins from this “incidental” catch. Environmental groups complain the measure invites abuses, and news reports from various Ecuadorian ports suggest shark landings are on the rise.  Ecuadorian advocacy groups are pressing Correa to reverse course, pointing out that the lucrative shark-fin trade has contributed to a rapid decline in shark populations worldwide.  In Guayaquil, critics have expressed their opposition by painting images of sharks on city streets. In Quito, graffiti has appeared in public places announcing, “sharks now belong to everyone,” a play on Correa’s presidential campaign slogan (“the nation now belongs to everyone”). The graffiti also features the line, “I exchange fins for votes,” suggesting Correa’s shark-fin step was meant to gain support from fishermen in Sept. 30 elections that will set the stage for a rewrite of Ecuador’s constitution.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Salmon Farms Also Harming Chilean Lakes, WWF Warns

 

AUG. 2007 - The conservation group WWF says salmon farming, typically associated with contamination of coastal inlets, is also causing significant environmental damage to Chilean lakes.  In a report released last month, WWF calls on farm operators to move production of salmon smolt from lakes to closed-containment systems on land.  Salmon-smolt production on Chilean lakes has doubled over the past ten years even though Chile’s 1991 Fishing Law prohibited further such production and even though government-sponsored ecological studies in the mid-1990s recommended a reduction in the practice.  WWF’s report points out that Norway, the world’s leading salmon-farming nation, has a competitive trade advantage due to its stricter environmental regulations, particularly concerning lake ecosystems.  It estimates a complete transition from lakes to closed containment facilities on land would require an investment of about US$43 million, which it says represents just 2% of Chile’s total salmon export revenues.   One of Chile’s biggest producers, Marine Harvest Chile, collaborated with the study and announced it will replace its lake facilities with closed containment centers on land.  It says it already operates three such centers in Chile.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Protected Areas

Indigenous Group in Guyana Declares Amazon Homeland a Conservation Area

 

OCT.4, 2007 - An indigenous group in Guyana, backed by government decree, has banned miners and loggers from its section of the Amazon jungle and pledged to pursue an economic strategy based on ecotourism, research and traditional crafts.  The leader of the Wai Wai said the group has developed a management plan for their homeland in remote southern Guyana, near the border with Brazil, which is intended to preserve forest, create jobs and keep young people from leaving for cities.  The Wai Wai received control of the 2,400 square miles (6,200 square kilometers) of tropical forest and savanna from Guyana's government in 2004. It is habitat to rare animals including the jaguar, blue poison frog and scarlet macaw.  Under the plan outlined at the [Bariloche] conference [on Protected Areas], some of the Wai Wai's 200 members would train to become forest rangers or to help researchers studying plants and animals of the rainforest.  The group developed the strategy with Guyana's government and Washington-based Conservation International, which set up a US$1 million trust to help manage the area.

 

Source – International Herald Tribune www.iht.com

 

Colombia's Newest Park Protects Rare Wildlife, Indigenous Peoples

 

AUG. 31, 2007 - The government of Colombia has created a new national park for the protection of one of the greatest areas of biodiversity in the country, inhabited by such rare and endangered animals as the Andean bear, jaguar, puma and tapir.  The new park stretches from the lowlands of the Amazon Basin to the slopes of the Andean Mountains, covering 97,180 hectares, or 375 square miles.  In addition to several agencies of the Colombian government, the park was created with the assistance of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through the project Piedemonte Andino-Amazonico Colombia, the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Global Environment Facility, and the United Nations, WWF Colombia and the Institute of Etnobiología.  According to Colombia’s Minister of Environment Juan Lozano Ramirez, in 2008 Colombia's National System of Natural Parks will have the largest financial investment in its history.

 

Source – ENS http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-31-02.asp

 

Science & Technology

Venezuela: Ministry of S&T US$ 4.3 million for Small Businesses

 

OCT. 04, 2007 – Venezuela’s Ministry of Science and Technology has allocated US$4.3 million for the development of 20 technological prototypes proposed by small business enterprises in areas such as petroleum, gas, energy, metal mechanics industry, health, and education.  According to the Ministry, this is the fourth cohort of projects that have received this type of financing and a total of sixty initiatives have been approved to receive these resources.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3954&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Colombia Discards Plan to Create Ministry of Science

 

OCT. 02, 2007 – The Government of Colombia has removed its support for the creation of a Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, a project presented to Congress last July.  According to the press report, this does not, however, mean that support for scientific activities will be paralyzed.  A new legislation to regulate science and technology is currently being proposed, which will focus of three main points: 1) stable financing, independent from the national budget and will not change with changing governments; 2) administrative issues, such as intellectual property rights; and 3) institutional strengthening of the National S&T System (Colciencias) as a policies manager.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3942&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Uruguay: New Entity and More Funds for Science

 

SEPT. 16, 2007 – Uruguay has launched the National Agency for Innovation (ANII, in Spanish), which, according to the press report, will have nine times more resources to invest in Research and Development (R&D).  The new entity, which was presented on September 12, will have seven members in it board of directors and will be subordinate to the President‘s office.  ANII will organize, develop, and evaluate programs to develop science and technology, bring together researches and business entities, and support the elaboration of public policies.  According to one of the members of the board of directors, the budget for R&D will reach USD21 million in 2008 – one percent of the country’s GDP.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3898&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Climate Change

Sao Paulo holds Kyoto Protocol “Carbon Market” Auction

 

SEPT. 27, 2007 - A bank from the Netherlands has emerged as the winning bidder in an auction which marks a new phase in the global "carbon market" reports the BBC. Fortis Bank has paid more than 13m Euros for the rights to emit 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide, in the first such auction to be held in a regulated exchange, the Brazilian Mercantile and Futures Exchange. The credits were held by the city government of Sao Paulo, in recognition of a project to prevent methane escaping into the atmosphere from a massive garbage tip in the city, the largest landfill site in Latin America.  A system of more than 40km of pipes extracts the methane from wells dug into the garbage mountain, using suction machines to pull it to a plant at the edge of the site where 80% is used to power electric generators, and the remainder burned at high temperature.  The plant supplies some 20MW of electricity to the grid, enough to supply the needs of some 400,000 Brazilians.  The private company which operates the methane collection system, Biogas, insists that it was only economically viable because of the cash that would become available through selling the carbon credits to European buyers.  Sao Paulo City announced it will use the proceeds from the auction for a series of environmental improvements such as parks and cycle-ways in the poor neighborhood surrounding the landfill site. The area includes some of the most extensive slums in the metropolis.

 

Source - MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=11464&formato=html

 

Climate Change Reaches Andes and Amazon

 

SEPT. 19, 2007 – Melting glaciers, changes in rainfall patterns, increasing temperatures, and increasing droughts and floods are the first indicators of climate change in the Andean and Amazon regions and has had devastating effects on agriculture, said experts during an international meeting organized by the Andean Community (CAN) in Lima, September 11-13.  The aim of the event was to elaborate an analysis and offer guidance on the mitigation of agricultural risks related to climate variability, as well as identify financial mechanisms and policies that can be applied to the agricultural sector to reduce the consequences of climate change.  Strategies to mitigate effects include education campaigns for rural communities, incentives to reduce crops that consume large amounts of water (e.g. rice), introduction of improved varieties, and the creation of efficient systems for climate alerts.  These recommendations will be presented at the Latin American Congress on Climate Change in Guayaquil and Quito, October 15-18.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3904&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Andean Community at Climate Forum

 

OCT. 15, 2007 - Representatives from member countries of the Andean Community (CAN) are meeting in Quito to analyze effects of climate change in the region, and ways to jointly alleviate this global problem.  The forum, entitled Latin Climate, will session October 15-16 in Guayaquil, and October 17-18 in Quito.  This will be "the first grand international meeting on climate change in Latin America, where the civil society, national authorities, and world institutions will assess problems caused by global warming," CAN general secretary Freddy Ehlers stressed.  Ehlers highlighted that the recommendations made in this summit will be brought to the International Conference on Climate Change in December in Bali, Indonesia.

 

Source – Prensa Latina http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7b95C67F5A-E8CA-446A-BBDF-F26CB06B4201%7d)&language=EN

 

 

Energy

Chile: CORFO Approves Financing for 53 New Renewable Energy Initiatives

SEPT. 6, 2007 -  Chile’ Economic Development Agency (CORFO) announced that it will finance feasibility studies for 53 new renewable energy projects around the country.  This figure is up from the 40 renewable energy projects that the agency funded in 2006 and it serves as yet another indicator that Chile is opening up to renewable sources of energy.  Of the 53 new renewable energy projects, 29 are wind power, 14 are hydraulic, five are geothermal, two are bio-mass and three are bio-gas.  Additionally, CORFO will host the second International Conference on Energy Invention, set to take place at Santiago’s Hotel Crowne Plaza November 14, 15 and 16.  This announcement comes on the heels of more positive news concerning the development of alternative sources of energy in Chile. Authorities announced in August that 23 wind energy parks are now undergoing feasibility studies at various points around Chile.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Biofuel Helping to Power Argentine Fishing Vessel

 

AUG. 2007 - A 115-foot (35-meter) Argentine fishing vessel departed the Patagonian port of Comodoro Rivadavia on July 17 and returned a week later with 80 tons of shrimp in its hold. Of more interest than the catch, though, was the vessel’s fuel, which included 5,000 liters of biodiesel made from squid- and hake-processing waste, seaweed and wild rose bushes. The biodiesel formed only a small part of the fuel supply of the vessel, named Codepeca I and owned by the Argentine fishing company Harengus.  Nevertheless, it reflects efforts in Argentina to develop alternatives to the most common biofuel feedstock here—soy oil.  For the past three years, private companies here have been working on pilot projects aimed at extracting seaweed oil for use in biofuel, for instance.  They’ve done so with help from the Chubut Center for Energies, an institution created by the government of Chubut province for the purpose of offering financial and material help to private companies developing biofuels.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

General

Amazon at Risk from Development Plans

 

OCT. 09, 2007 - The Amazon jungle is at risk from planned developments in transportation, energy and telecommunication, warn scientists.  A report, published October 1st, by Conservation International scientist Timothy Killeen, addresses the plans of the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA).  The IIRSA is an initiative of twelve South American countries to connect regions isolated by the Amazon wilderness to improve trade throughout the continent and make agricultural commodities, biofuels, and industrial minerals more competitive in international markets.  It plans to invest in highways linking the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts and improve river transportation, hydroelectric dams and telecommunication in the Amazon.  Killeen advocates environmentally friendly solutions, such as using the intact Amazon forest to generate carbon credits; planting biofuel crops such as sugar cane on the 65 million hectares of already deforested land; and making use of the Amazon's abundant water for fish farming.

 

NOTE: The HUB has a PDF copy of the report and will be pleased to share with anyone interested.

 

Source - Science Development Network

 

Peruvians Don’t Understand the use of Biodiversity, says Study

 

SEPT. 27, 2007 – Peruvians are aware of the loss of biodiversity, but are unable to identify the problems and needs related to this loss and don’t know how biodiversity could contribute to improve their quality of living.  This was revealed by a study on the technological needs and demands of the Peruvian population, presented September 20 in Lima.  The study, carried out by RAMP-Peru, covered three Andean regions with extraordinary biodiversity: Cusco, Cajamarca, and Puno.  The conclusion shows that when it comes to agriculture, water, and energy, the population understands more clearly its needs and the technological products which can satisfy those needs.  And although the technological demands are broad, most involve innovation rather than specific technological products.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3929&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Scores Ill in Peru 'Meteor Crash'

 

SEPT. 19, 2007 - Hundreds of people in Peru have needed treatment after an object from space - said to be a meteorite - plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say.  They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down near the town of Carancas in the Andes. People who visited the scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.  But some experts have questioned whether it was a meteorite or some other object that landed in Carancas.  "Increasingly we think that people witnessed a fireball, which are not uncommon, went off to investigate and found a lake of sedimentary deposit, which may be full of smelly, methane rich organic matter," said Dr Caroline Smith, a meteorite expert at the London-based Natural History Museum.

 

Source – BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7001897.stm   

 

Brazil Petrobras to Push Production Deeper Into Amazon

 

SEPT. 3, 2007 - Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, plans to start producing natural gas from fields deeper into the Amazon rain forest, according to Exploration and Production Director Guilherme Estrella.  In order to maintain a 20-year contract to provide the Amazonas state capital Manaus with 5.5 million cubic meters of gas a day, the company plans to start production at three fields that lie between 150 and 200 kilometers west of its already producing Amazon unit of Urucu.  Petrobras had discovered those fields - Jurua, Jaraqui and Sao Mateus - more than 30 years ago, but so far hasn't started output there due to their remote location in deep Amazon rainforest.  The company plans to drill 23 new exploration wells in the Solimoes and Amazonas region in the Amazon, mostly in the new fields.  Environmental groups have complained about Petrobras' presence in the middle of the Amazon in the past, and court battles have blocked the construction of the Urucu-Porto Velho pipeline for years.

 

Source – Dow Jones Newswire

 
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