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South America Environment, Science & Technology, and Health Newsletter ISSUE 109

by Stoner, Larissa A — last modified Jan 10, 2013 10:04 AM
Contributors: rhessmiller
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: Brazil: Clean Gasoline Fuels Soybean Production; Environmentalists Praise Results of Moratorium on Growing Soy in Brazil Amazon Health: U.S. Donates 50,000 Dollars Relief Funds to Victims of Northeast Flooding; Colombian Scientists Synthesize Potential Malaria Vaccine. Water Issues: Chile: Aguas Andinas to Study Glaciers; Chile’s Drinking Water Supply Guaranteed for Only 25 Years. Forests: Brazil to Rein in Foreign Groups in Amazon; Google Earth to Carry Satellite Images of Amazon Deforestation. Wildlife: Chile Park Officials to Monitor Mountain Lion Population. Fishing & Marine Conservation: Trawl Fishing Banned in Venezuela; Catch Limit Tightened on Fishing of Argentine Hake; Argentina: Environmental Atlas of the Sea; Turbulent Times for Chilean Salmon Farms. Science & Technology: US and Uruguay Sign Technology Cooperation Accord. Infrastructure Development: Brazil: Amazon Ghost Highway to Be Brought Back to Life; Chile: Environmentalists Defend Patagonian Wilderness from Dams. Pollution: Ecuador: Damage Estimate Filed in Amazon Oil-Pollution Trial; Two Ecuadorians Fighting against Chevron are Among 2008 Goldman Prize Winners; Peru: In Search of Less Toxic Mining. Climate Change: Marriott in Carbon Offset Deal with Brazilian State; 'Green' Trash Dump in Brazil on A Road to Revenue; Brazil to Pay Amazon Residents for 'Eco-Services'; Carbon Credits Could Help Save Amazon; Carbon-Offset Business Takes Root in Brazil. Energy: Bolivia's Morales Says Biofuels Serious Problem to Poor; Argentina, Brazil Revive Binational Dam Project; Chile Mandates Renewable-Energy Targets. General: Chile Unveils New Indigenous Policy; Environment Prominent in Bolivia’s Draft Constitution; Peru: Critics Say New Environment Ministry Will Lack Decision-Making Powers in Key Areas; Amazon Environmentalist Gunned Down in Peru

South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter

NOTE:  The South America ESTH Newsletter is now also available on the Intranet -

Edition # 109.  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.



Brazil: Clean Gasoline Fuels Soybean Production

Apr. 03, 2008 - The Brazilian government has decided to move up the deadlines for obligatory addition of biofuels to gasoline and diesel fuel, a measure that will boost the production of soybeans, the oilseed crop with the lowest yield and that causes the most environmental damage.  In January it was determined that two percent of biodiesel should be added to fuels derived from crude oil, a proportion that is to rise to three percent as of Jul. 1.  Although the National Program for Biodiesel Production and Use planned for a five percent mixture to be introduced in 2013, Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said the target date would be brought forward to 2010.  Soybean production will benefit for many years into the future, because it is the only crop "available in sufficient volume, and for which the industrial structure and logistics are adequate to provide a reliable supply to meet the demand," according to Sergio Beltrao, the head of the Brazilian Biodiesel Union (Ubrabio), an association of producers and researchers of biofuels.  Beltrao admitted that "a wider variety of raw materials would be desirable, but the biofuel program cannot wait." Therefore, soybeans will be the predominant source of biodiesel for many years, although it is "unanimously" recognized that it is neither the most productive nor the most energy-efficient, he said.

Source – IPS News


Environmentalists Praise Results of Moratorium on Growing Soy in Brazil Amazon

MAR. 31, 2008 - A moratorium on the purchase of soybeans from newly deforested areas of the Amazon appears to be preventing grain fields from contributing to rain forest destruction, according to environmentalists and an industry group.  No new soybean plantations were detected in any of the 193 areas that registered deforestation of 100 hectares (250 acres) or more between August 2006 and August 2007, according to Greenpeace and the Brazilian Vegetable Oils Industry Association.  U.S. commodities giants Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd., as well as France's Dreyfus and Brazilian-owned Amaggi, are participating.  The ban came in response to protests against expanding soy plantations, which had become a major source of rain forest destruction. There is no word on whether the moratorium will be renewed.

Source - The Associated Press


U.S. Donates 50,000 Dollars Relief Funds to Victims of Northeast Flooding

MAY 02, 2008 - The U.S. Ambassador in Brazil Clifford Sobel authorized granting $50,000 of discretionary relief funds to victims of flooding in Northeast Brazil.  These funds will provide basic emergency help in the form of locally purchased, locally prioritized basic health and hygiene items to a total of 1400 vulnerable flood-affected families in the following very hard-hit municipalities: 500 families in Crateús (Ceará state), 500 families in Esperantina (Piauí state) and 400 families in Aparecida/Souza (Paraíba state).  On April 24, relief funds were presented by USAID Mission Director Jennifer Adams and U.S. Consul in Recife Diana Page to Wellington Dias, Governor of Piaui, and to the Catholic Relief Service, in Teresina, capital of Piaui. Heavy rains since late March 2008 have resulted in severe flooding in the interior of Northeast Brazil´s Semi-Arid Region.  Damage has been most severe in 250 municipalities of six states: Ceará (26 municipalities), Maranhão (29), Paraíba (88), Pernambuco (37), Piauí (35) and Rio Grande do Norte (35), as well as in the states of Pará and Alagoas.

Source – USAID Brazil


Colombian Scientists Synthesize Potential Malaria Vaccine

APR. 07, 2008 - A Colombian research group has chemically synthesized an early-stage malaria vaccine candidate in the laboratory.  Manuel E. Patarroyo and Manuel A. Patarroyo, director and researcher of the Colombian Institute of Immunology Foundation respectively, chemically synthesized protein fragments of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum involved in red blood cell invasion.  They adapted their structures and tested them in Aotus monkeys until an immune response was initiated.  Patarroyo's research group has been working on the technique to chemically synthesize vaccines for over 30 years.  He says that the vaccines will be effective against multiple microorganisms and at different stages of the infection process. Plans indicate that batches of vaccine produced will always be exactly the same, and will not induce side effects.  The findings are published in Accounts of Chemical Research.

Source - SciDev


Water Issues

Chile: Aguas Andinas to Study Glaciers

April 30, 2008 - Spanish-owned water purification company Aguas Andinas announced this week it will study the impact climate change has on the polar ice caps of Antarctica and the glaciers of Chile, and how global warming affects the future of Chile’s fresh water reserves.  The project involves testing the level of carbon monoxide in ice samples from the glaciers and comparing these levels to the rate of climate change. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of the green house affect that is behind the global warming phenomena.  Aguas Andinas is one of Chile’s most important water supply and waste water treatment companies, and is a subsidy of Spain’s Aguas Barcelona.  The Aguas Andinas project will begin in 2009 and will cost an estimated 1.5 and 2 million euros (between US$2.3 million and US$3.1 million). The company is hoping to partner with a national university.

Source – Santiago Times

Chile’s Drinking Water Supply Guaranteed for Only 25 Years

APR. 01, 2008 - A Public Works Ministry (MOP) study released March 30 revealed that Chile has enough fresh drinking water to last until 2033. The MOP study also confirmed that the lion share of the country’s fresh water is consumed by industry, provoking a barrage of criticism from leading environmentalists.  The MOP said that, taking into account all sectors of Chilean society, 677,000 liters of drinking water are consumed nationwide every second. Of that total, roughly 78 percent is used by Chile’s forestry and agricultural industries, followed by the 12 percent consumed by the country’s manufacturing sector, and the 4 percent consumed by mining operations. Still, MOP officials were quick to point out that in some areas, such as northern Chile’s Region II, mines consume more than half of the local fresh water sources.  The MOP has put together a series of proposals aimed at conserving Chile’s fresh water, including:  use of desalinated ocean water—instead of fresh water—in northern Chile; increased monitoring and protection of Chile’s glaciers; the construction of more reservoirs; stricter punishments for citizens or companies that extract fresh water illegally; and artificial replenishment of Chile’s underground aquifers.

Source – Santiago Times


Brazil to Rein in Foreign Groups in Amazon


APR. 24, 2008 - Brazil's military will regulate environmental, religious and other foreign groups working in the Amazon region under a law being drafted to assert sovereignty over the often lawless rainforest, the defense minister said on Thursday.  "There is this concept that the Amazon is some free place for anyone, but the Amazon is sovereign Brazilian territory," Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said at a media briefing.  Justice Minister Tarso Genro said that many NGOs were involved in bio-piracy and were trying to influence Indian culture to expropriate land.  The justice and defense ministries plan to send a new Foreigners Bill to Congress in June to curb NGOs from serving as fronts for illegal activities in the Amazon.  It would require foreign individuals and groups to get permission from the Justice Ministry and register with the regional military command.  If the foreigners were working without approval or in an illegal way, the Justice Ministry could revoke visas, deport and fine individuals and groups between 5,000 and 100,000 reais (US$3,000 and US$60,000).

Source- Reuters 

Google Earth to Carry Satellite Images of Amazon Deforestation


APR. 11, 2008 - Google is about to post on its Google Earth internet service detailed images of Amazon jungle deforestation, according to report.  Story notes that Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) already makes available on the internet its own satellite images of Amazon deforestation, but that they don’t have sufficient resolution to be easily visualized by non-experts. Google Earth director of programs Rebecca Moore said that image processing should be completed and put on the internet this year to pressure regional governments to take action, but did not explain what satellite services are being used.  Reportedly Google already highlights the efforts of an indigenous leader from Cacoal, Rondônia, to protect his tribe’s lands from deforestation, noting that 11 tribal leaders have been killed in the last five years.

Source – O Estado de Sao Paulo


Chile Park Officials to Monitor Mountain Lion Population

April 30, 2008 - The southern, Chile-based Conservación Patagónica conservation group will begin to electronically monitor part of Region XI's mountain lion population.  Officials say that the information gathered will be used both to observe the felines' habits and to protect local livestock from the prowling cats.  The mountain lion population is protected under Chilean law, which classifies the species as “vulnerable.”  The monitoring project, the first of its kind in Chile, will take place within the grounds of Region XI's Estancia Chacabuco, a 76,000 square hectare stretch of pristine steppe land owned by U.S. philanthropist Douglas Tompkins and administered by Conservación Patagónica.  Still, Tompkins has publicly disclosed his intentions to transfer ownership of the territory to the Chilean government.

Source – Santiago Times

Fishing & Marine Conservation

Trawl Fishing Banned in Venezuela

APR. 08, 2008 - Trawl-fishing is on its way out in Venezuela, amid positive demonstrations by artisanal fisherfolk who support the new law as amended by President Hugo Chávez.  Groups of fisherfolk have been organizing marches in the capital, some of them driving trucks carrying their boats, to show their support for the Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture, amended by Chávez in March by a decree-law banning trawl-fishing.  Before the amendment, the previous law promulgated by Chávez in 2001 only prohibited trawling less than six miles (10 kilometers) from the mainland or less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from island shores.  But the amended law bans trawl-fishing in all Venezuelan waters, where González said "Italian and Spanish ships used to trawl, not only Venezuelan fishing vessels."  The new law provides for a one-year transition period, until March 2009, for the trawling companies and their ships to change over to other activities.

Source – Tierramerica


COMMENT FROM EMBASSY CARACAS – Venezuelan daily El Universal reported that the fish supply dropped by 90% in some markets immediately following the ban as fishing companies were confused about the conditions of the ban and ceased all operations.  Supply appears to be recovering as more boats are returning to the water after the government clarified the details of the one year transition agreement.

Catch Limit Tightened on Fishing of Argentine Hake

APR. 2008 - Argentina has reduced by 20% the catch limit for Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi), the principal target of the country’s commercial fishing industry.  Moving to protect a species that has yet to recover from years of overfishing, the Argentine Secretariat of Agriculture, Ranching, Fishing and Food now requires that the catch of hake, known locally as merluza, be limited to 270,000 metric tons annually for the next five years.  Experts are concerned not only about the deliberate targeting of hake, but also about the incidental bycatch of the fish by fishing crews looking to land other species.  For instance, shrimpers operating off Chubut and Santa Cruz provinces in Argentina’s Gulf of San Jorge accidentally net hake. Though the fish are thrown back to leave cargo room for the far-higher-priced shrimp, the accidentally caught hake often die in the process.

Source – EcoAmericas


Argentina: Environmental Atlas of the Sea

APR. 07, 2008 - Some 50 experts from a variety of institutions and disciplines put together an Atlas of Environmental Sensitivity of the Argentine Coast and Sea, with data on fauna and flora, water salinity, fishing resources, contamination, and other aspects.  "The aim was to identify sensitive areas that require attention because of activities like fishing, shipping or exploitation of hydrocarbons," Florencia Lemoine, of the Fundación Vida Silvestre, a group participating in the project, told Tierramérica.  "It is a database with reliable scientific basis, with a multidisciplinary focus and which will serve as a tool for easy consultation and simple language for decision makers and for society," she said.  The atlas covers 5,000 kilometers of coastline from north of Buenos Aires to the southern extreme of Beagle Canal, and will be available on the Internet in May.

Source – Tierramerica

Turbulent Times for Chilean Salmon Farms

APR. 2008 - Criticism of the environmental practices of Chilean salmon farms has spiked once again as the industry struggles to cope with a severe slowdown related to the outbreak last year of a water-borne virus called infectious salmon anemia, or ISA.  Since it was detected here last July, the virus, which poses no risk to humans, has spread rapidly among Chilean salmon farms and is causing salmon deaths on a worrisome scale.  One million infected fish were killed as a precautionary measure after ISA was first found last year on four salmon farms, but the virus continued making inroads.  Sernapesca, Chile’s fishing agency, says that as of April 8, the virus had affected 21 salmon farms, including three far south in Patagonia’s Aysén region.  In addition, Sernapesca suspects 17 more salmon farms have the virus; meanwhile, 39 of the farms are under strict quarantine pending verification that the virus is no longer present.  The Pure Salmon Campaign and numerous Chilean environmental groups charge that sea lice and ISA are consequences of poor environmental management at salmon farms. Specifically, they point to the continuing overproduction of salmon, lax governmental regulation and the tendency of both government and industry to place economic interests above environmental and social concerns.  Experts say the best long-term way to minimize environmental impacts and disease would be to operate salmon farms as closed-containment systems on land. This strategy would eliminate such problems as salmon escapes and water pollution, and would greatly reduce the need for chemicals.  Thus far, however, consensus has not developed in the industry to embrace such a strategy across the board, with many executives complaining that the cost of land-based, closed-containment operations would be prohibitive.

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

Science & Technology

US and Uruguay Sign Technology Cooperation Accord

 APR. 30, 2008 - United States and Uruguay signed on April 29 a bilateral agreement to promote and increase cooperation in Science and Technology. The agreement was signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs minister Gonzalo Fernandez during a ceremony at the State Department.  The new agreement provides a mechanism through which the United States and Uruguay can broaden cooperation in all scientific and technology fields, and move forward in areas of collaboration such as energy, health issues, science and technology education, engineering, sustainable development, agriculture, and natural resources. It will support government-to-government exchanges and scientific partnerships between private, academic, and non-governmental entities. The agreement prioritizes the study of biodiversity through the collection, conservation, and exchange of biological and genetic resources in cooperative projects, which are often the key to advancing agricultural science and medicine, and understanding the impact of climate change on the environment.

Source – MercoPress 

Infrastructure Development

Brazil: Amazon Ghost Highway to Be Brought Back to Life


APR. 04, 2008 - BR-319, a road blazed 35 years ago through the heart of the Amazon jungle and now impassable due to neglect, has sparked a new battle between environmentalists and the Brazilian authorities, who have decided to rebuild it.  The officials defend the economic integration of the central Amazon and south-central Brazil, saying it will bring benefits for the local population.  But environmentalists say reparations of the road will lead to further deforestation and new waves of migration towards the northern city of Manaus, which is already plagued by serious urban problems and increasing conflicts over the surrounding land. The controversy has been fuelled by a proposal to replace the highway with a railroad, for which an economic viability study has already been conducted, and which would mean much less deforestation, according to Virgilio Viana, who set forth the alternative as secretary of the environment and sustainable development in the northwestern state of Amazonas, a post he left Mar. 3 to head the Sustainable Amazon Foundation.  The 885-km road links Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia state on the border with Bolivia, with Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, the Brazilian state with the most extensive stretches of intact jungle.  The rebuilding and paving of the road should be complete by 2011, says the Ministry of Transport, whose chief, Alfredo Nascimento, was mayor of Manaus from 1997 to 2004. The estimated cost is 700 million reals (about 400 million dollars).

Source – IPS

Chile: Environmentalists Defend Patagonian Wilderness from Dams

APR. 01, 2008 - Robert Kennedy, senior attorney for the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), was in Chile to support opponents of a plan for building five dams in the southern region of Patagonia.  In his half-hour meeting with President Michelle Bachelet on March 31st, the environmentalist and son of assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) offered the president the NRDC’s technical assistance in developing non-conventional renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, mini-hydraulic, geothermal and tidal energy, as well as contacts with foreign investors.   If Patagonia were in the United States, or in any other country in the world, it would be a nature reserve protected by the state, he said, expressing the hope that a policy decision will be taken to prevent the building of the HidroAysén project. Environmentalists are awaiting the results of a study on the country’s energy industry being prepared by experts from government institutions, like the Chilean Energy Ministry and the National Program for Energy Efficiency (PPEE), and academics from the University of Chile and the Federico Santa María Technical University.  But in the meantime, they are studying all the legal options to block the dams.

Source – IPS


Ecuador: Damage Estimate Filed in Amazon Oil-Pollution Trial

APR. 2008 - The trial to assess Chevron’s alleged responsibility for oilfield pollution in the Ecuadorian Amazon reached a key juncture in April when a court-appointed investigator estimated the contamination’s health and environmental impacts at US$8.02 billion.  A ruling isn’t expected before next year, but analysts believe that when one comes, it could set a precedent for oilfield pollution litigation throughout Latin America.  Plaintiffs assert reinjection should have been used to minimize damage in the rainforest, but Chevron has argued that at the time the technique was new and untested in Ecuador.  Participants in the case who have read the impacts report say the $8.02 billion cost estimate attempts to take into account environmental remediation; compensation for pollution-related health problems; and steps needed to prevent further contamination.  The report also alleges Texpet had “unfair earnings” of US$8.31 billion when it failed to use appropriate technology to prevent the pollution, sources say.  Ricardo Reis Veiga, Chevron’s vice president for Latin America, warns that Chevron is willing to seek arbitration in international courts, where he says it would invoke a bilateral U.S.-Ecuadorian investment-protection treaty.

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

Two Ecuadorians Fighting against Chevron are Among 2008 Goldman Prize Winners

APR. 2008 - This year’s edition of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize was won by four activists from Latin America and one each from Belgium, Mozambique and Russia for their work in fighting corporate polluters, conserving land and advancing sustainable development.  Sometimes referred to as the “environmental Nobel Prize,” the US$150,000 award brings international attention and clout to worthy causes, environmentalists say.  Ecuadorians Pablo Fajardo Mendoza and Luis Yanza were awarded the prize for leading a 15-year battle to force Texaco and its parent company Chevron to clean up millions of gallons of crude and drilling wastewater dumped into the soils and waterways of the Ecuadorian Amazon during 1972-92.  Their efforts to organize some 30,000 inhabitants of the Ecuadorian Amazon, including people suffering cancers and miscarriages allegedly caused by the oilfield pollution, prompted a landmark case now being litigated in Ecuador.  Environmentalists say the prestige of the Goldman Prize often adds momentum to their causes. But it also can draw criticism, as it has this year.  Chevron, the defendant in the Amazon contamination case, released a statement attacking the Ecuadorian recipients.  “Chevron regrets that the organizers of the Goldman Environmental Prize were skillfully misled into naming Mr. Fajardo and Mr. Yanza as prize winners,” the company said.  Chevron accused Fajardo and Yanza of helping to deflect oil-pollution responsibility from Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company, and for blocking clean-up efforts and pursuing the case for financial gain.

Source - EcoAmericas

Peru: In Search of Less Toxic Mining

APR. 05, 2008 - The Peruvian government is seeking to reduce the maximum allowable emissions of pollutants by the mining industry, but the proposed limits are still a long way from meeting international standards. The initiative, submitted for consultation in December and January by the National Environment Council (CONAM), has come under fire as insufficient for protecting the health of residents who are exposed to poisonous gases and metals from mining operations and foundries  , including arsenic, zinc, sulfur and cadmium. The proposed decree would approve the new "maximum permissible limits" (MPLs) for liquid effluents and atmospheric emissions, set in 1996 for the mining-metallurgy sector, as well as regulations for compliance. According to the proposal, the liquid waste that is dumping arsenic into lakes and rivers must not have a concentration higher than 0.5 micrograms per liter (mcg/l).  That cuts in half the current national limit of one mcg/l, but is five times higher than what is allowed under the limits established by the World Bank in 2007, of 0.1 mcg/l, according to Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).   ELAW experts believe the project should meet global standards in order to require compliance by Doe Run.   They also recommend participation by local communities in monitoring the measures, and want the Health Ministry to step up its involvement in the matter.

Source – IPS News

Climate Change

Marriott in Carbon Offset Deal with Brazilian State

APR. 07, 2008 - Marriott International has signed a landmark deal with the Brazilian state of Amazonas that will see the hotel group launch a carbon offset program for its guests and invest in a fund aimed at securing 1.4 million acres of rainforest.  The company has invested US$2 million in the fund, which aims to prevent the deforestation of the threatened Brazilian rainforest.  Marriott guests will be invited to invest in the fund, which the company said would offset the carbon emissions associated with their stays.  The company estimates it generates 2.9m metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.  Arne Sorenson, Marriott's chief financial officer, said the group decided to launch the scheme because its guests and corporate customers had expressed interest in "greening" their stays.  Eduardo Braga, the governor of Amazonas, said the Marriott agreement was "the first project on reducing emissions from deforestation in Brazil and one of the first in the world". He added that the deal would "make history because it demonstrates how rainforest preservation can be used as a climate strategy".

Source – Financial Times

'Green' Trash Dump in Brazil on A Road to Revenue

APR. 06, 2008 -The methane pipelines are already in place at the Novagerar trash dump on the outskirts of this impoverished suburb of Rio de Janeiro.  So are the legions of dump trucks that haul 2,800 tons of city trash here every day and the dozens of workers who cover the trash with soil at day's end to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping.  This 300-acre ''green'' dump is ready to tap into a potential carbon-credit market explosion that many developing countries hope will pour millions of dollars into poor communities like this one.  So far, the dump, which is owned by the Brazilian construction company Paulista, generates only 4 percent of its revenue -- or $900,000 a year -- from selling carbon credits.  That is bound to change, said facility director Adriana Felipetto, who predicted that annual carbon-credit sales would hit $3 million in two years and make up a quarter of the facility's total revenue stream.

Source – Miami Herald

Brazil to Pay Amazon Residents for 'Eco-Services'

APR. 06, 2008 - Brazil's government is planning to pay residents of the Amazon money and credits for their "eco-services" in helping to preserve the vast forested area sometimes called the "lungs of the Earth", referring to its role in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.  Environment Minister Marina Silva has presented the measure as a priority and said "keeping the forest going is an important environmental service" for the entire planet. Under the scheme, farmers, ranchers and woodsman who use small-scale traditional techniques in the Amazon will be rewarded with public funds, special credits and a market that will pay more for environmentally sustainable products.  The initiative's goal is to reinforce methods seen as doing less damage than the large-scale mechanical and chemical methods of big commercial businesses, according to Paulo Guilherme Cabral the director for Brazil's Agency for Sustainable Rural Development.  The Brazilian state of Amazonas recently created a "forest fund" and Brazil is studying other countries' models, including in Costa Rica where taxes on water and fuel are paid to forest landowners.

Source – Yahoo News


Carbon Credits Could Help Save Amazon

APR. 06, 2008 - Global carbon markets could generate billions of dollars each year for developing countries that tackle tropical deforestation, a major source of global warming, according to a new study.  Reducing the rate at which Amazonian rain forests are disappearing by only 10 percent, for example, would yield 1.5 to 9.1 billion euros (2.2 to 13.5 billion dollars), depending on world carbon emission prices, researchers calculated.  That money could then be plowed into national conservation efforts that would further mitigate climate change, creating a virtuous circle.  Slowing down deforestation by another 20 percent, could result in an additional 45 billion dollars for the region if carbon prices reached 30 euros per ton, said the study, one of two dozen scientific papers on the future of the Amazon released by The Royal Society in Britain.

Source - Agence France Presse


Carbon-Offset Business Takes Root in Brazil

APR. 2008 - Three São Paulo consulting firms are working to meet expanding demand for offsets from Brazilian companies interested in reducing their carbon footprint.  The firms— the nonprofit Iniciativa Verde,  and MaxAmbiental and Key Associados, both for-profit—measure companies’ carbon emissions and help generate offsets through such means as planting trees.  All three firms report fast-growing business—and a mixture of motives on the part of their clients ranging from altruism to an entrepreneurial interest in affixing “carbon neutral” seals to their products or services.  “Brazilian companies neutralize their emissions because they want to be more environmentally responsible, because they want to use ‘carbon free’ seals to boost sales, or because clients pressure them to do so,” says Francisco Maciel, the co-director of Iniciativa Verde. “It is hard to know where their eco-responsible side ends and where their marketing side begins.”

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


Bolivia's Morales Says Biofuels Serious Problem to Poor

Apr. 22, 2008 - Bolivian President Evo Morales criticized "some South American presidents" for supporting the use of biofuels, which he said are responsible for high food prices and global hunger. Visiting the United Nations while fighting autonomy referendums called by the opposition at home, the Bolivian president said the increased use of farmland for fuel crops was causing a "tremendous increase" in the price of food -- especially of wheat, which has made bread more expensive.  In his U.N. speech earlier, Morales called on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to develop policies to curb the use of biofuels "in order to avoid hunger and misery among our people".

Source – ENN

Argentina, Brazil Revive Binational Dam Project

APR. 2008 - Looking for ways to meet growing energy demand, Argentina and Brazil have agreed to revive plans for a binational hydroelectric station on the Uruguay River.  The environmentally controversial project, called Garabí, has languished in an on-again, off-again planning limbo since the original agreement authorizing it was signed in 1972.  But new Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and her Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, recently gave the initiative a strong push.  On Feb. 22, the pair signed an agreement announcing their “decision” to build the facility and authorizing two state-owned companies—Brazil’s Eletrobras and Argentina’s Ebisa—to conduct technical and environmental studies.  The signing took place at an energy summit in Buenos Aires in which Kirchner and Lula were pressing Bolivian President Evo Morales for assurances that Bolivia would sell their countries sufficient quantities of natural gas.  The hydro station would be built on a stretch of the Uruguay River that runs along the international border between northern Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil and the northern and southern portions, respectively, of Argentina’s Corrientes and Misiones provinces.

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

Chile Mandates Renewable-Energy Targets

APR. 2008 - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has signed into law a renewable-energy bill aimed at diversifying power generation in this energy-strapped country.  The congressionally approved measure, signed by Bachelet on March 20, establishes gradual increases in the percentage of Chile’s electricity produced from renewable sources.  Although the Bachelet administration hails the new law as a milestone, many environmentalists and legislators say it falls short of harnessing Chile’s alternative-energy capabilities.  The measure requires that by 2010, Chilean electricity producers whose annual output is 200 megawatts or more must generate at least 5% of their output through solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, small-scale hydroelectric, wave or other alternative energy technologies. It mandates an annual 0.5% increase in that quota beginning in 2015 so that by 2024, 10% of Chile’s power comes from renewables.  The measure also establishes fines for companies that do not comply with the new regulations.  Fines will be calculated according to how much alternative-power generation the violator must add in order to meet the law’s threshold.  For repeat offenders, meanwhile, fines will be stiffer.

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


Chile Unveils New Indigenous Policy

APR. 02, 2008 - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced a new policy for indigenous people, which includes novel approaches to political participation and the protection of natural resources in the hands of the country’s native groups.  "Some say the problem facing indigenous people is just poverty, and that good targeting of subsidies would be the most appropriate policy. But we, on the other hand, maintain that it is a matter of rights, of a collective identity seeking expression in a multicultural society," said Bachelet at a ceremony in the palace of La Moneda, the seat of government.   A 2006 census known by the acronym CASEN found that 1,060,786 people identified themselves as belonging to native groups, equivalent to 6.6 percent of the Chilean population.  The largest indigenous community is the Mapuche, who make up 87.2 percent of the country’s indigenous people.   The new "Social Pact for Multiculturalism" addresses three main areas: political systems, rights and institutions; integrated development of indigenous communities; and multiculturalism and diversity.

Source – IPS News

Environment Prominent in Bolivia’s Draft Constitution

APR. 2008 - Environmental advocates in Bolivia are praising the proposed Bolivian constitution, which on May 4 will be put to a public referendum.  While Bolivia’s current constitution does not include the word “environment,” the new version, drafted in a constitutional assembly that met from August 2006 to December 2007, contains numerous environmental-protection provisions.  “This constitution exceeded our expectations by far,” says Adam Zemans, executive director of the Cochabamba, Bolivia-based Environment Las Americas, a nonprofit that houses an environmental law clinic and an environmental education initiative. “The question is whether any of this will now transfer from paper to practice.”  Zemans, who has an environmental law degree from Georgetown University, says perhaps the most important achievement is the enforcement procedures outlined in the new constitution.  In particular, the constitution includes a section called Popular Action, contained in articles 136 and 137. The section allows organizations and individuals to initiate lawsuits.  The section moreover declares that cases do not require exhaustion of other legal avenues before they are considered at the highest level of the Bolivian justice system—that of the Constitutional Court.  Meanwhile, the new constitution also creates a powerful Agro-Environmental Tribunal with jurisdiction over all environmental and agriculture cases.

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

Peru: Critics Say New Environment Ministry Will Lack Decision-Making Powers in Key Areas

APR. 02, 2008 – According to critics, the Peruvian government announced that it will create an Environment Ministry by decree, without going through the process of a debate in civil society, Congress and regional governments.  Trade and Tourism Minister Mercedes Aráoz revealed that the new ministry will not be responsible for inspecting mining industry activity, in spite of the fact that 40 percent of social conflicts related to the environment arise in the mining sector.  The ministry will not have authority over water management, either, although water shortages are already becoming a problem due to climate change and water pollution is one of the main causes of environmental conflict.  The government wants the Agriculture Ministry to be in charge of water, through the recently created National Water Authority.  Forestry and logging will also come under the purview of the Agriculture Ministry.  The National Service for Protected Areas may also be excluded from the remit of the new ministry.  Critics of the government initiative point out that the team of experts is proposing that the Environment Ministry should only handle evaluations of environmental impact studies for large mining and energy projects, without even defining what qualifies as a "large" project.

Source – Tierramerica

Amazon Environmentalist Gunned Down in Peru

MAR.14, 2008 - After reporting a truck loaded with mahogany illegally logged from the Amazon rainforest, Julio Gualberto García Agapito, a Peruvian authority who worked to protect forests, was gunned down by Amancion Jacinto Maque, an illegal timber operator, on February 26, 2008.  As Lieutenant Governor of the town Alerta in the Tahuamanu Province of Madre de Dios in Peru, Don Julio dedicated his life to conservation and building sustainable livelihoods for the people of southwestern Peru.  Development pressures are mounting in the region due to the improvement of the Transoceanic Highway, which links the heart of the Amazon to the Pacific. The highway will soon serve as an artery for transporting soy and other agricultural products to Pacific ports — the gateway to China.

Source - Mongabay

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