TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- Last month forest fires wiped out more than 35,000 hectares of forest in Honduras, Luis Eveline, of the Honduran forest development agency COHDEFOR, told Tierramérica.
The toll of fires nearly tripled the total in 2004, when 8,409 hectares were lost, and is blamed on the prolonged summer season and the shortages of staff and funding for adequate monitoring of the forests, he said.
Honduras has some 11.25 million hectares of forest according to COHDEFOR, but each year some 100,000 are lost to fire and illegal logging.
In Tegucigalpa department alone there were more than 250 fires in April, and, as in the rest of the country, reports of respiratory ailments were up.
Bio-Insecticide Kills Dengue Mosquito
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Brazil has at the ready a biological insecticide, Bt-horus, to fight dengue, a disease that threatens the population of two-thirds of the national territory.
Developed from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) by the government's agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, the pesticide exterminated 100 percent of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes -- which transmit the disease -- in Brasilia's water reservoirs, according to project coordinator Rosa Monnerat.
The bio-insecticide proved effective also against the 'borrachudo', a small mosquito that is a threat to livestock and hurts tourism on Brazil's beaches, Luis Peixoto, commercial manager of Bthek Biotech, the company associated with the project, told Tierramérica.
The non-chemical insecticide also fights the anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria, it does not hurt other fauna and benefits the environment because it prevents the need to use toxic chemicals, he said.
Bt is abundant in Brazilian soil, which means it can produce the bio-insecticide 40 percent more cheaply than similar products from transnational corporations, said Peixoto.
Windmills Improve Rural Life
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Rural communities in the eastern Cuban province of Santiago will have water this month thanks to the installation of modern windmills to pump the vital liquid from the ground.
The shortage of water supplies has been solved by the 15 windmills included in the ''Initiative for an Eco-Efficient Community'', developed with the help of the Canadian International Development Agency.
Cuban technicians told Tierramérica that the equipment involves a system to capture the wind using delta-shaped blades, which can function even in low winds.
The windmills are high-output and resistant to corrosive environmental conditions, according to the experts.
There are an estimated six or seven thousand windmills in Cuba, most manufactured locally, but many have fallen into disuse because of poor maintenance and lack of replacement parts.
Not Much Garbage Recycled
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Just 17 percent of the 20,000 tons of waste produced daily in Venezuela is recycled, according to studies by the environmental organization Vitalis.
Furthermore, ''just 30 percent of garbage undergoes adequate treatment in sanitary landfills, and the rest is merely dumped, which leads to contamination problems,'' Vitalis president Diego Díaz told Tierramérica.
On top of that, he added, ''40 percent of the garbage arriving at the landfills is paper, which is dangerous because it generates methane gas, which depletes the planet's ozone layer,'' said the expert.
''The first step for resolving this problem, in the medium term, is to raise awareness among all citizens,'' Díaz said.
Each Venezuelan generates 800 grams to one kilogram of garbage every day.
Majority Favors Smoking Restrictions
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- Ninety percent of the residents of the Chilean capital consulted in a survey said they favor the total ban on smoking in hospitals, schools and on public transportation.
In the poll, the results of which were released last week, 62.6 percent of respondents said they support a ban on tobacco consumption in the workplace, while 39.6 percent said there should be places set aside for smoking.
The study was conducted as part of the process under way for ratifying the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, of the World Health Organization, which would require stricter rules under Chile's Anti-Tobacco Law, in effect since 1996.
Fernando de la Fuente, president of the Chilean Association of Gastronomy, which commissioned the survey, told Tierramérica that a vast majority support creating spaces for smokers in restaurants and bars, and that only small minorities of poll respondents supported complete prohibition or total liberalization of tobacco use. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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