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South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter Edition 103

by Stoner, Larissa A — last modified Jan 10, 2013 10:04 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: Biodiesel, Feed Revive Brazil Soy Crush Investment; Brazil: Agriculture's New Frontier; Palm Spreads its Wings in Brazil, Plantings Rise. Health: U.S. Department of Defense Course Enhances Latin American Epidemiology. Water & Sanitation Issues: Brazil: Sanitation a Reality on Paper Only. Forests: Guyana's Extraordinary Offer to Britain; Argentina: Ban on Logging Approved; Brazil: Dutch Bank to Unveil Carbon Credits for Amazon. Farm Prices, Amazon Deforestation on Rise Wildlife: Latin American Botanists to Get Plant Database. Fishing & Marine Conservation: Chile's Flourishing Fish Farms Prompt Fears for Ecosystem; Chile Steps Up Whale Protection; Brazil: Fish Farm Concessions for Government Dams. Science & Technology: Brazil to Invest US$23.5 Billion in Technology; Argentina to Create New Science Ministry. Infrastructure Development: Brazil, Colombia and Peru Agree to Look for Oil in Peru's Amazon; Integration and Sustainable Development in the Tri-Border Region, South America; Argentina Mounts Strict Environmental Monitoring Of Uruguay Pulp Mill; Audit Says Peru’s Camisea Gas-Pipeline System Flawed; Proposed Road in Chile’s Patagonia Sparks Heated Debate; Protecting the Peruvian Amazon and its People from the Risks of Oil and Gas Development. Mining & Other Extractive Industries: Colombia: Quarries in Slums Seen as Health Risk; Peru: A (Toxic) River Runs Through It; Argentina Restarts One of Its Uranium Mines; UN Targeting Mercury Use among Small-Scale Miners. Energy: Chile in Search of Its Energy Treasure; In Chile, New Book Published to Bolster Anti-Dam Campaign. Climate Change: Latin America Draws Praise for Reducing Emissions of Ozone Depleting Chemicals; Ecuador Backs Indonesia Bid for Forest Compensation; City of Rio de Janeiro Prepares for Climate Change. General: Ecuador Creating Travel Card to Slow Galápagos Migration.

South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter
 
NOTE:  The South America ESTH Newsletter is now also available on the Intranet - http://brasilia.state.gov/hub/default.htm
Edition #103.  Also attached is a calendar of up-coming ESTH events across the Western Hemisphere.  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.  Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so.


 
Agriculture
Biodiesel, Feed Revive Brazil Soy Crush Investment
 
NOV. 27, 2007 - Rising demand for feed and the expectation of a growing biodiesel market in
Brazil are encouraging the soybean crushing industry to invest in new plants after several years of slow growth, analysts and industrial officials said.  U.S. giant Cargill Inc has plans to build a processor unit in Mato Grosso state, which would begin operating in 2009.   Several companies, including Cargill and Bunge, had to shut down soybean crushing units in the recent years due mainly to poor processing margins.  Profit in crushing has been low during most of 2007 but perspectives are improving.  "What changed dramatically the situation was the link between soybean and energy.  All these new projects take into account the biodiesel potential," said chief trader Renato Sayeg at Tetras Brokers in Sao Paulo.  Brazil will blend 2 percent of biodiesel into all diesel fuel sold in the country beginning January 2008.  The mandatory mix will then increase to 5 percent by 2013.
 
Source – Reuters http://uk.reuters.com
 
Brazil: Agriculture's New Frontier
 
NOV. 26, 2007 - Land management is the biggest challenge for Brazilian agriculture. New policies are needed to make the sector sustainable.  Brazil is one of the few countries with an abundance of both water and land available for agricultural purposes. In an era of global anxieties over food shortages, this places Brazil in a unique position. But today, of Brazil’s 2.1 billion acres of land, 445 million acres are used as pastures for grass-feed cattle that actually yield quite low productivity.  A new modus operandi is necessary to mitigate the environmental costs and allow for continued expansion of sustainable agricultural production.  There are two keys to guaranteeing sustainable expansion of sugarcane and grain production: the conversion of grass-feed systems for cattle-raising to more intensive ones and the use of degraded land rather than new land.  To reduce the pressure on Amazon land, degraded land must be converted into productive soil.
 
Source – Latin Business Chronicle http://www.latinbusinesschronicle.com
 
Palm Spreads its Wings in Brazil, Plantings Rise
 
NOV. 21, 2007 - Palm plantations in Brazil are likely to expand at least three-fold in the coming years as demand rises and the nation seeks to benefit from soaring prices of the commodity.  Brazil, whose main crop is soybeans, has some 8.5 million hectares in the northern state of Para suitable for growing palm trees, said Marcello Brito, commercial director of Agropalma, Latin America's biggest palm oil producer. Brito said some 75,000 hectares of palm estates in Brazil produce 160,000 tons of crude palm oil annually.  "We have companies that have bought new areas for growing palm plantation in northern Brazil," he said. "We expect that we can more than triple the planted area in the next 5 years."
 
Source – Reuters (no link)
 
Health    
U.S. Department of Defense Course Enhances Latin American Epidemiology
 
OCT. 31, 2007 - Latin America has benefited from short, locally targeted courses to build capacity for responding to and investigating disease outbreaks.  The region is already partially served by overseas field epidemiology training programs, but these tend to be long and costly, and do not offer enough places to meet the region's needs.  The US Naval Medical Research Center in Lima, Peru, part of the US Department of Defense, has developed a 40-hour course relevant to doctors, nurses, biologists, lab workers, environmental health specialists and veterinarians. So far the course has produced 1,343 graduates from 14 countries skilled in designing outbreak investigations, conducting epidemiology, and interpreting and publishing scientific evidence.  The organizers say that by being involved in running these courses, the centre not only accumulates expertise on disease outbreaks in Latin America, but also transfers technology and knowledge to the region.
 
Source – Science http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/318/5850/574?ijkey=uH0wQAJ20fUu6&keytype=ref&siteid=sci
 
Water & Sanitation Issues
Brazil: Sanitation a Reality on Paper Only

NOV. 19, 2007 - The main sanitation plan for the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul is 12 years old, has survived four state governments and carries a price tag of 220 million dollars -- but has yet to be implemented.  It was a model project for environmental management: it would cover 251 municipalities with a total of more than six million people, 83.5 percent in urban zones and 16.5 percent rural, many without any type of sewage services.  The affected area, extending across 84,700 square kilometers, includes nine watersheds where more than 70 percent of the state's gross domestic product is generated.  The depreciation of the dollar, the changes in government and the leadership of the Environment Secretariat -- four different people in the last administration -- all contributed to undermining it.  It could have been worse if not for the audits conducted by the IDB, which meant additional monitoring of the money. The bank is currently auditing the accounts of the last phase of the first module.
 
Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=1785
 
Forests
Guyana's Extraordinary Offer to Britain
 
NOV. 24, 2007 -  In a dramatic offer, the government of Guyana has said it is willing to place its entire standing forest under the control of a British-led, international body in return for a bilateral deal with the UK that would secure development aid and the technical assistance needed to make the change to a green economy.  The deal would represent potentially the largest carbon offset ever undertaken, securing the vast carbon sinks of Guyana's pristine forest in return for assisting the economic growth of South America's poorest economy.  The existing rainforest reserve of Iwokrama in central Guyana has been mentioned as a model for what could be done countrywide. The million-acre reserve was gifted to the Commonwealth in 1989 as a showcase for how tropical forests could be managed to provide ecological and economic benefits. Scientists working there estimate it holds close to 120 million tons of carbon – an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of the UK.
 
Note from the HUB: This “offer” was broadly criticized in the Brazilian media.  Environment Minister Marina Silva declared that a country must not lose its sovereignty to protect its forests, and journalists emphasized that ATCO should have been consulted first.
 
Source – Independent http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article3191500.ece
 
Argentina: Ban on Logging Approved

NOV. 29, 2007 - Pressure exerted by civil society and the creation of a compensation fund were crucial in securing the passage of a national law suspending all logging in native forests in Argentina, until such time as each province has a land use plan defining forest areas to remain untouched, and those that may be developed.  Provincial governments will not be able to grant logging permits for one year, and if they delay their land use plan, for which strict guidelines are given in the text of the law, the suspension will be extended.  Native forests in Argentina covered 127 million hectares a century ago, but now there are only 31 million hectares, mainly because of the uncontrolled expansion of the agricultural frontier. According to satellite images provided by the Secretariat of the Environment and Sustainable Development, 300,000 hectares of forest are being lost every year.
 
Source – IPS http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40277

Brazil: Dutch Bank to Unveil Carbon Credits for Amazon
 
NOV. 27, 2007 - Rabobank, the Dutch bank that is the world's biggest provider of finance for agriculture, is preparing to launch a carbon credits scheme to encourage replanting of forests illegally cleared in the Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon.  Its organizers hope the scheme will become a blueprint for conservation in the rest of the Amazon forest.  In a pilot program to begin next month, Rabobank will provide R$150,000 (US$83,000) to eight soy farms and cattle ranches in the Xingu region in Mato Grosso state.  The pilot is based on a new, voluntary, conservation-based land registry and is part of broader efforts in the region to bring farmers and ranchers into line with legal requirements to conserve forests on their land.  If the pilot is successful, the amount of finance offered is expected to rise to several million dollars a year during the next few years and the credits generated will be sold on the voluntary carbon credit market.
 
Source - MSNBC http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21981163/ 
 
Farm Prices, Amazon Deforestation on Rise
 
NOV. 2007 - Two weeks after prominent environmental groups unveiled a proposal to end Amazon rainforest destruction by 2015, the Brazilian government announced that its deforestation rate from June through September had risen an estimated 8% over the same four-month period last year.  In the recent June-through-September reporting period, loggers, farmers, settlers and others cleared a total of 1,794 square miles (4,570 sq kms), an area nearly the size of the U.S. state of Delaware.  Experts attribute the higher deforestation rate to an upturn in farm commodity prices that began early this year and prompted the clearing of land for crops. They say increased use of cropland to cultivate feedstock for biofuels—especially in the United States—adds to the pressure for new food-crop acreage.  Soy and beef markets are key drivers of deforestation in Brazil, the world’s second leading soy exporter and the top beef exporter. The Amazon is Brazil’s main beef-growing region and its second biggest source of soy. The expanding soy-farming frontier has penetrated the periphery of the rainforest, especially in the western state of Mato Grosso.
 
Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner at StonerLA@state.gov for complete article)

Wildlife
Latin American Botanists to Get Plant Database
 
NOV. 12, 2007 - An initiative to put thousands of botanical specimens from Latin America into a single online database is underway. The Latin American Plant Initiative (LAPI) will scan botanical 'type' specimens — the original specimen on which the description of a new species is based — with a view to improving plant science research and teaching.  LAPI's first meeting took place at the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) October 23–25.  There were 140 specialists from 70 herbaria housing collections of Latin American plants, who negotiated terms for making digital images and information available.  The new initiative is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
 
Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=4048&language=1
 
Fishing & Marine Conservation
Chile's Flourishing Fish Farms Prompt Fears for Ecosystem
 
DEC. 02, 2007 – A massive growth of the salmon industry in Chile is seriously affecting the quality of Chile’s lakes, according to a World Wildlife Fund report detailing some of the industry's effects on the environment.   Round pellets -- the fish-based food that is fed to the salmon -- have fallen to the lakebeds unconsumed and ended up buried in the dirt. Those pellets, combined with the salmon's feces, add nutrients to the water that spur plankton growth and deplete oxygen, which can make the water unlivable for many native fish.   According to official statistics, evidence of oxygen deficiency was found at 20 percent of salmon farms operating on Chile's lakes between 2003 and 2005.  Fishing companies also use net pens in the freshwater lakes -- as well as rivers and estuaries -- to raise smolt, or young salmon, before moving them to saltwater facilities to mature. Because some of the salmon get loose from the net pens, their population in the lakes has increased at the expense of native species, most of which are much smaller.  The potential risks of using the lakes to raise smolt have long been known, and the Chilean government stopped issuing concessions for smolt production in lakes in the early 1990s. But existing concessions were allowed to continue operating, and the total production of smolt in those areas has doubled since 1998, according to the World Wildlife Fund study.
 
Source – Washington Post (no link, please contact Larissa Stoner at StonerLA@state.gov for complete article)
 
Chile Steps Up Whale Protection
 
NOV. 28, 2007 - The Chilean government has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting whales and dolphins along Chilean coasts in the wake of a worldwide controversy over resumption of whaling by Japan.  Minister of Environment Ana Lya Uriarte referred to the need to implement mechanisms to preserve ecosystems and emblematic creatures, including whales and other cetaceans, which are part of the country's natural heritage.  The announcement of measures for the protection of the marine fauna of Chile comes after the recent launch of whaling by Japan for reportedly scientific purposes, which has been rejected by several countries.
 
Source – Earthtimes.org
 
Brazil: Fish Farm Concessions for Government Dams

NOV. 26, 2007 - Brazil's Fisheries and Aquaculture Secretariat is offering concessions for raising fish in areas near dams and other public water bodies, with the aim of legalizing the status of clandestine fisherfolk.  It involves "offering the fishers the opportunity for a legal solution instead of punishing them," Aquaculture director Felipe Matias told Tierramérica.  The first concessions announced cover five areas in Itaipú, an immense hydroelectric dam shared with Paraguay. There are to be four more concession distribution processes in 2008.  Just one percent of Brazil's water resources can be used for raising fish, but it would be enough to double the existing 150,000 aquaculturists.
 
Source - Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=244

Science & Technology
Brazil to Invest US$23.5 Billion in Technology
 
NOV. 20, 2007 - Brazil will invest 41.2 billion reals (US$23.5 billion; €15.9 billion) in technology, science and innovation in the next three years, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced.  The government said the investments are part of its "Growth Acceleration Project" (PAC), which will continue until 2010.  Funding will go to technological education centers, scholarships, scientific projects and incentives for private research.  The government plans to invest 1.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in technology, up from the current 0.5 percent.
 
Source - http://www.iht.com.  See also http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=4076&language=1
 
Argentina to Create New Science Ministry
 
NOV. 20, 2007 - Argentina will establish its first Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation.  President-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who will assume power in December, has appointed molecular biologist Lino Barañao as minister of science in her new cabinet.  The announcement marks a major shift for science in Argentina. Science was undervalued in the 1990s, with scientists experiencing poor pay and working conditions. Science was not seen as central to development strategy by the government of the time.  According to Barañao the ministry will continue the government's current science plan, launched in 2004 and continuing until 2010.  The main goal of that plan, says del Bono, is to increase investment in science and technology to one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, with 50 per cent from public investment and 50 per cent from the private sector.
 
Source - SciDev
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=4073&language=1
 
Infrastructure Development
Brazil, Colombia and Peru Agree to Look for Oil in Peru's Amazon
 
NOV. 23, 2007 - Government oil corporations from Brazil, Colombia and Peru signed on November 22 an agreement in Lima, capital of Peru, to jointly invest in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Peruvian Amazon.  The three corporations, PetroPeru, Ecopetrol and Petrobras will hold an equal share of the undertaking beginning with exploration tasks in an area of 5.7 million hectares in the Peruvian jungle to the north of the country next to Colombia.  Brazil has also announced plans to search for oil and natural gas in the country's remote western Amazon.  Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, ANP, plans to invest an estimated US$ 30 million to look for oil and gas in Acre, an Amazon state bordering Bolivia, the government news agency Agência Brasil announced  on October 20.
 
Source – Brazil Mag http://www.brazzilmag.com
 
Integration and Sustainable Development in the Tri-Border Region, South America
 
NOV. 21, 2007 – The Government of Spain is launching a four-year program to stimulate sustainable development in Misiones (Argentina) and several towns in Brazil and Paraguay.  The 1.7 million-Euro project is focused on a the region forming an arch on the Paraguay border with Argentina extending 12,000 km from Puerto Iguazu to Saltos del Mocona (Posadas).  The aim is to reach “zero deforestation” in the region as well as improve the quality of life of the populations by providing food security, sanitation, housing, education, and jobs.
 
Source – La Nacion http://www.lanacion.com.ar/informaciongeneral/nota.asp?nota_id=963683&pid=3530799&toi=5282
 
Argentina Mounts Strict Environmental Monitoring Of Uruguay Pulp Mill
 
NOV. 19, 2007 - Argentina will begin strict environmental monitoring of the Botnia-Orion pulp mill built next to the River Uruguay.  The strategy has been awarded 1.5 million US dollars [by the GOA] and is fully supported by the outgoing and incoming Argentine administrations.  The monitoring includes waters of the River Uruguay, air and atmosphere, and will be coordinated by Argentina’s Environment Secretary with the support of the Fluvial Guard, several universities, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Meteorological Office plus the Health Department from the province of Entre Rios and the local government of the city of Gualeguaychú.  The monitoring operation will record “monthly biogeochemical, biological and air quality variations” which will give a clearer picture of the river’s ecosystem and surrounding areas
 
Source – MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=11920&formato=html
 
Audit Says Peru’s Camisea Gas-Pipeline System Flawed
 
NOV. 2007 - An audit of the pipelines carrying natural gas and gas liquids from Peru’s Camisea gas field to the Pacific coast found that the pipelines were not designed to withstand the harsh geological and geotechnical conditions along the 350-mile (560-km) route, particularly the section in the Amazon basin and on the east slope of the Andes.  The audit found that the pipelines were designed to withstand the internal pressures to which they would be subjected, but not external pressures from shifting earth, which caused most of the ruptures.  The audit, issued last month, was ordered by the Peruvian government after five leaks occurred in the gas liquids pipeline between December 2004 and March 2006, including one that sparked a fire in which several people were injured and about 12 acres (five has) of field and forest burned.  Bill Powers, chief engineer of E-Tech International, a California-based public-interest engineering firm that has been following the Camisea pipeline case, says the auditors’ findings demonstrate “the absolute necessity of establishing independent monitoring” of the pipelines before natural gas operations expand in the Peruvian Amazon.
 
Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner at StonerLA@state.gov for complete article)
 
Proposed Road in Chile’s Patagonia Sparks Heated Debate
 
NOV. 29, 2007 - The Ministry of Transportation and Public Works (MOP) submitted November 27 an Environmental Impact Study (EIA) for the construction of a new road within Pumalín Park—a private nature reserve in Region X developed by U.S. philanthropist and ecologist Douglas Tompkins. The proposal will now be debated by the Chile’s National Environmental Commission (CONAMA). Tompkins expressed indignation about the project, calling the road unnecessary and potentially harmful to the fragile ecosystem of the park. The new road was first proposed in May and would be an extension of the existing southern highway that cuts through the park. It would connect the towns of Termas del Amarillo and Futaleufú, the latter of which has become a tourist hub within the past few years. Construction by the Military Work Corps is expected to take 10 years and cost US$40 million.   Proponents of the new project include officials of both towns as well as tourism companies in the region.
 
Source – Santiago Times (no link)
 
Protecting the Peruvian Amazon and its People from the Risks of Oil and Gas Development
 
OCT. 2007 - There are 482 indigenous communities in Peru's Amazon region -- 14 of which are completely isolated from any contact with the outside world.  While logging is the most serious threat to the livelihoods of indigenous communities (and most importantly, their continued isolation), the recent rise in oil prices has generated an investment boom in Peru's oil and gas sector.  Many national and multinational corporations as well multilateral and private banks have responded quickly to this unprecedented financial opportunity, and the Peruvian government has allocated about 80 percent of the country's Amazon forests for oil and gas exploration.  In response, the Inter-Ethnic Association for Peruvian Jungle Development (AIDESEP) has filed for a ban on oil and gas exploration and drilling in areas of the Peruvian Amazon where isolated communities live.  Peru's official allocation process has been largely non-transparent and closed to public participation.  Indeed, Peru is the last remaining country in Latin America without an independent environmental authority.
 
Source – WRI http://www.wri.org/stories/2007/10/protecting-peruvian-amazon-and-its-people-risks-oil-and-gas-development#
 
Mining & Other Extractive Industries
Colombia: Quarries in Slums Seen as Health Risk

NOV. 21, 2007 - Local residents of shantytowns on the outskirts of the Colombian capital complain that sand, gravel and limestone quarries operating in the area pose serious risks to their health as well as the danger of landslides.  Sand and limestone began to be extracted on a small scale in the early 1950s by local campesinos (peasant farmers), when the area was still rural. Since then, vast slum neighborhoods have grown up in the hills, largely populated by tens of thousands of people displaced from their land and villages by the four-decade civil war, in which left-wing guerrillas are facing off with government forces and far-right paramilitaries.  According to Francisco Ramírez, the president of SINTRAMINERCOL, the Colombian mineworker’s union foreign companies have benefited from the mining code enacted in Colombia in 2001. The new mining and energy code made environmental regulations more flexible and weakened labor guarantees.  The new code authorizes firms to "explore for minerals in urban areas, and grants multinational companies concessions like article 212, which states that if a company repeatedly violates Colombia’s laws on the environment, the state can cancel its operating license. The trade unionist stressed “‘Can’ rather than ‘must’,".

Source – Tierramerica http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40158
 
Peru: A (Toxic) River Runs Through It

NOV. 22 (IPS) - The Mantaro river basin, one of the main water sources in Peru’s central Andes mountains, is a dump for toxic substances, according to an independent scientific study.  Lead levels, for instance, are 180 times higher than those accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The study shows that the river basin is a veritable sewer, containing cyanide, lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, used in mining, coliform bacteria from human waste, and nitrates from agrochemicals.  Apart from these alarming findings, the authors of the study conclude that Peruvian legislation does not protect human health and environmental quality effectively, in comparison with the laws in other countries. "Mining companies should comply with international environmental standards, rather than our national ones which are beneath the dignity of the Peruvian people," the Catholic archbishop of Huancayo and coordinator of the Junín environmental negotiation group, Monsignor Pedro Barreto said.
 
Source – IPS http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40173
 
Argentina Restarts One of Its Uranium Mines
 
NOV. 2007 - Looking to expand its nuclear energy program using domestic fuel sources, Argentina is claiming progress in its efforts to restart its idled uranium-mining industry. The federal government in August signed an agreement with Salta province to restart the Don Otto mine, the first uranium operation to be reactivated in Argentina since such mining was halted in the mid-1990s amid international price trends favoring imported uranium. Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (Cnea) isn’t the only one seeking uranium in Argentina; foreign companies including Globe Uranium of Australia, Mega Uranium of Canada and Urex Energy of the United States have announced exploration efforts.  Mining supporters cite the country’s energy needs and the opportunity nuclear power represents to ease Argentina’s dependence on fossil fuels and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  However, government mining plans have been slowed by concerns about the environmental impacts of uranium operations.
 
Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner at StonerLA@state.gov for complete article)

UN Targeting Mercury Use among Small-Scale Miners
 
NOV. 2007 - The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is giving US$1.7 million each to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mozambique under a five-year program to reduce the use of toxic mercury in artisanal gold mines.  The grants, announced in October, will supplement $673,000 spent by each country as part of Unido’s Global Mercury Project, which seeks to cut mercury use worldwide by 50% over the next 10 years.  The UN-funded project will target mines worked by around 80,000 miners in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará, the Andean province of El Oro in southwestern Ecuador and Colombia’s northwestern department of Antioquia.  “We will be setting up demonstrations to teach cleaner practices that are better for both the environment and human health and yield far higher percentages of gold,” says Marcello Veiga, chief technical adviser to the Global Mercury Project.

Source – EcoAmericas
 
Energy
Chile in Search of Its Energy Treasure

NOV. 12, 2007 - Chile is rich in natural resources that have energy potential, like wind, land, ocean and rivers, the sun and biomass, but the country only began to consider them in 2004, while importing 72 percent of the energy its population consumes.  In November 2006, the Michelle Bachelet government set the goal for 15 percent of new electricity generating capacity to come from renewable, non-conventional sources by 2010.  The government is working on the passage of new legislation, the expansion of financial instruments of support and improvement of information about the sector.  The main thing at stake is a bill that calls for eight percent of the electricity sold by the main producers must come from non-conventional, renewable sources.  It would begin with five percent in 2010, growing 0.3 percent each year until reaching eight percent in 2024. Violators would have to pay a fine.  In 2008, the government will draw up an inventory of national holdings that could be made available to private entities, through concessions, to carry out alternative energy projects.
 
Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=1787
 
In Chile, New Book Published to Bolster Anti-Dam Campaign
 
NOV. 2007 - A national campaign in Chile to stop a host of dams slated for rivers in Chilean Patagonia has gained new ammunition—a 180-page, exhibit-format book whose title, mirroring that of the campaign, is “Patagonia Without Dams.”  Conceived by Douglas Tompkins, the U.S. entrepreneur who founded a massive private park in northern Chilean Patagonia called Pumalín, the Spanish-language book features essays and photos from over 30 Chilean and international environmental activists, entrepreneurs, scientists, economists and others.  It addresses topics such as Patagonian environmental conflicts; impacts of the region’s economic growth; and alternative-energy strategies that could be used to avoid building the dams planned for Chilean Patagonia’s Baker, Pascua, Cuervo and Puelo rivers.  Endesa Chile and Colbún, the two companies devising plans for a series of dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers have been organizing open houses in Patagonian communities to inform and educate local residents about their plans.
 
Source – EcoAmericas

Climate Change
Latin America Draws Praise for Reducing Emissions of Ozone Depleting Chemicals
 
NOV. 2007 - It is not surprising Argentina has become a world leader in the effort to shrink the so-called ozone hole.  During the coldest winters, the thinner-than-normal area of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica can expand to the size of North America and subject residents of Patagonia to intense ultraviolet radiation, raising their risk of skin cancer and cataracts.   More unexpected, perhaps, is the aggressive stand other Latin American nations have taken against ozone-depleting substances.  Spurred by what health experts say could be a tripling of skin cancer in Latin America in the coming decades, nations in the region not only have ratified the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, but have made impressive cuts in their use of ozone-depleting chemicals.   A key factor in that reduction has been the region’s progress in ending its use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—the main ozone depleting gas—in refrigerators, air conditioners and foams.  While treaties to curtail illegal logging, fishing and animal trafficking have had mixed results in Latin America, ozone reduction has sped ahead, largely because of the US$360 million the United States, the European Community, Japan, Canada and Australia have provided the region for industrial conversion.
 
Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner at StonerLA@state.gov for complete article)
 
Ecuador Backs Indonesia Bid for Forest Compensation
 
NOV. 27, 2007 - Ecuador President Rafael Correa expressed support for Indonesia's calls to have developing nations compensated for preserving forests as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.  Correa said Ecuador and Indonesia, both home to some of the world's richest biodiversity, had agreed to have a common negotiation position at a UN climate change conference in Bali.  Ecuador has asked for financial compensation from industrialized nation in exchange for forgoing the exploitation of oil fields in the Amazon. "It is necessary to have a fairness principle in order to face this kind of issue, I mean to compensate countries that are providing this kind of good, environmental good, with high value but without price," Correa told a news conference.
 
Source – Reuters (no link)
 
City of Rio de Janeiro Prepares for Climate Change
 
NOV. 19, 2007 - Rio de Janeiro, threatened with losing its beautiful beaches as sea levels rise, will be the first Brazilian state to complete a plan to mitigate the effects of climate change.  The plan will be presented at the international climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec. 8, along with a local inventory of emissions of carbon dioxide.  "Rio is the first state in Brazil to create a carbon office, to promote the Vegetable Oil Re-Use Program, to mix five percent biodiesel in bus fuel, and to include the question of vulnerability in environmental permits," Carlos Minc, state environment secretary, told Tierramérica.  The plan and the inventory will help establish "priorities for investment and orient attention to specific areas," like the coastal zone and the recovery of methane gas from garbage dumps, says Suzana Kahn, state superintendent for climate and carbon markets.
 
Source – Tierramerica http://www.tierramerica.info/nota.php?lang=eng&idnews=eco&nro=243
 
General
 
Ecuador Creating Travel Card to Slow Galápagos Migration
 
NOV. 2007 - Cracking down on illegal migration to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador’s government will require that non-residents who go to the threatened archipelago must first obtain special travel cards.  The government-run Galápagos National Institute (Ingala) ordered that an initial 160,000 cards be printed for distribution to Galápagos visitors starting next month.  The cards, which will cost $10 each, will be used in conjunction with a database to determine who has exceeded the maximum 90-day stay established under the special law governing the Galápagos. Violators will be sent back to the mainland and forbidden from returning.  Ingala Manager Fabian Zapata estimates 3,000 to 4,000 people live illegally on the Galápagos, where population growth has been cited as a key cause of environmental pressures.  Scientists rank human migration to the Galápagos among the islands’ three prime environmental threats. The others are invasive plant and animal species and growing tourism.
 
Source - EcoAmericas

 
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