RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Ninety-four percent of Brazilian schools include environmental education in their curriculum, as a regular course or in specific projects, according to the 2004 school census, which covered 215,000 schools.
Three years earlier, that percentage was 61.2, so the increase is encouraging. "But we can't expect that the quality in terms of conceptual consistency and continuity are part of such a rapid expansion," Luiz Ferraro, technician with the Ministry of Environment, said in a conversation with Tierramérica, adding that he was speaking personally.
The ministries of Environment and Education train environmental educators, both among teachers and unionists, peasant leaders and communities linked to important ecosystems, like river areas, he said.
Bamboo In Vitro
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- A project to develop bamboo in Cuba aims to obtain and multiply "in vitro" four species useable as lumber in order to expand its use throughout this Caribbean island.
The result will be "the production of laminate wood, artisanal items and the use of its waste as an energy source," Fernando Martirena, deputy director of the Central University de las Villas' structures and materials research and development center, told Tierramérica.
Some 1,200 hectares will be planted with the support of the Swiss agency for development and cooperation. The plantations come in addition to another 1,000 hectares developed in eastern Cuba.
Bamboo grows in temperate zones of Asia and the Americas, and is known for its structural resistance, lightness and perennial growth. Until now, its utilization in Cuba has been very limited.
Protests Put the Brakes on Water Law
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- Guatemalan lawmakers have withdrawn a bill to establish the Water Law in the wake of protests staged in mid-September by thousands of peasant farmers in the western part of the country.
Guillermo Sosa, a deputy on the Environment Committee, confirmed for Tierramérica that this occurred "while a deeper study is being conducted on the issue." Furthermore, the communities will be consulted about the proposal.
Juan Chitay, one of the leaders of the protest movement, said that with the law the government of President Oscar Berger aims to "take control of water." The law "will cause problems for the health of the residents, in agriculture, and in the development of our communities."
The legislative bill established the creation of a vice-ministry of water resources in order to manage water usage and the employment of special licenses for better utilization of water for productive ends.
No Risk of Drought
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- Heavy rains and snowfall over much of Chile, more than 70 percent above average and triggered by a prolonged, harsh winter, have ruled out any risk of drought and energy rationing that was proposed earlier this year.
Deputy minister for public works, Pablo Piñera, said Sep. 21 that the abundance of precipitation means the larger reservoirs will maintain or increase their water reserves. The great accumulation in the mountains ensures water supplies once the spring melt as the Southern Hemisphere begins.
"The irrigation season to come will be the best since 1997," Piñera told Tierramérica. "For the rest of this year and the beginning of the next, there won't be any water problems for any of the activities related to farming, tourism, hydroelectric power or fishing."
Building on a Devastated Mountain
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Venezuela is considering the construction of 30,000 housing units on 3,500 hectares in the north of Avila, the mountain that separates Caracas from the Caribbean Sea, and where flooding and mudslides left thousands dead in 1999, says Environment minister Jacqueline Faría.
Faría acknowledged that construction on the mountainside involves risks and creates problems for supplying water and other services, which is why the study was entrusted to a committee led by Antonio Rivero, head of the governmental office for disasters and civil protection.
Marco Negrón, director of a group of architects, told Tierramérica that "it involves an improvised project, which in an absurd way neglects investment in areas where the population already is, to take it where it isn't, and ignores the fact that along with the housing they will need schools, sewage services, retail areas and water supplies." *Source: Inter Press Service.
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