BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- Social and environmental groups from the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero, which lost 2.5 million hectares of forest in the 20th century, denounce the government's bill on forest conservation and use.
The legislative initiative adopted just some of the suggestions made by the so-called Land Panel, composed of academics, farmers, religious leaders and environmentalists. The group told Tierramérica that the bill ignores ''key'' concepts and measures for protecting forested lands.
The deterioration of the province's forests accelerated in recent years due to the advance of the soybean farming. According to studies by the forestry department of the National University of Santiago del Estero, in the past decade another 450,000 hectares of forest were cleared.
In mid-2004, at the request of the Land Panel, the provincial government decreed a 180-day moratorium in logging, and began to work on a land regulation bill that should be approved by the legislature this year.
A Guide to Fruits and Seeds
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The EcoAndina Foundation has launched the ''Guide to Fruit and Seeds of the Middle Otún River'', a record of the great diversity of the flora of the Colombian Andes
Darío Correa, co-author of the guide published Jan. 14, told Tierramérica that the text covers 219 of the area's most representative plants and was designed to help readers identify species based on the fruit and seeds the plants produce.
''It's a tool that can provide quicker understanding of the wealth and distribution of plant species and the composition of the forest,'' says Correa, who conducted the research for the guide with the help of Margarita Ríos and Paula Giraldo.
EcoAndina, based in the western Colombian city of Cali, had the support of the Colombian program of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Investigation Into Gas Leak
LIMA, (Tierramérica).- Elena Foronda, head of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, and representatives of the Machiguenga indigenous council are demanding that the authorities conduct a public environmental inspection of the gas leak that occurred in the pipeline that runs from the south-central zone of Camisea to the central Peruvian coast on the Pacific.
The pipeline burst on Dec. 22 in the jungle region of the Urubamba River, 1,100 km southeast of Lima. According to official sources, in the seven minutes that passed before pumping was cut off, some 70,000 cubic meters of liquid natural gas escaped.
The company Transportadora de Gas says the environmental damage was ''minimal'', because more than half of the gas evaporated immediately, and the rest was dispersed in the waters of the Urubamba River.
Spokespersons from the Machiguenga community of Ticumpinia told Tierramérica, however, that the leak affected hundreds of local residents and killed off thousands of fish.
Protests Against Mine Continue
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- Opposition to open-pit mining in Guatemala will continue, rural leader Daniel Pascual told Tierramérica, despite the violence that erupted on Jan. 11, claiming the life of one protester.
The demonstrations, led by field workers, aim to halt activity by the Canadian mining firm Montana, in San Marcos, some 300 km west of Guatemala City.
''They have not yet conferred with the communities about the Montana operations, as is required by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, of which this country is a signatory,'' said Pascual.
Magalí Rey Sosa, director of the Madre Selva Collective, explained to Tierramérica that opposition to the mining project is mostly based on the fact that ''it requires more than 250,000 liters of water per hour to operate.''
The Catholic diocese of San Marcos, headed by priest Alvaro Ramazzini, convened another protest march for Jan. 27. President Oscar Berger has accused Ramazzini of manipulating local peasant farmers in his personal opposition to Montana mining.
Sources from Montana say the company ''operates under the most rigorous environmental and social regulations,'' has invested 70 million dollars in the project and will provide employment for some 1,500 people. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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