RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The Cerrado, a savannah-like ecosystem that covers a fifth of Brazil's territory, is slated to receive 81 million dollars under a program for environmental protection.
One-third of that sum will be contributed by the Global Environment Facility, which was founded in 1991 to help developing countries fund projects that protect the global environment.
The Sustainable Cerrado Program, formalized two weeks about by presidential decree, "has arrived late," given that it was expected in 2003, but is important because it represents a "change in attitude," Mario Barroso, of the non-governmental organization Conservation International, told Tierramérica.
It is a "first step" towards a new model of non-destructive use of the Cerrado, previously considered a sort of escape valve, "to be sacrificed in order to save the Amazon," he said.
More than half of this ecosystem has been devastated, and only recently has its role been recognized as a supplier of the country's main watershed systems.
Pinabete Tree in Danger
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- The national forest institute, INAB, issued a warning about the extinction of the pinabete tree in Guatemala -- the result of illegal cutting of this tree during the Christams season.
INAB estimates there is an annual output of 22,000 pinabetes, or Guatemalan firs, but demand during the holiday season surpasses 45,000 trees.
Ana Luisa Noguera, executive secretary of the National Coordinator of Protected Areas, CONAP, announced a campaign to prevent the illicit sales of pinabete, or "Abies guatemalensis", a unique species in this country.
The campaign aims to guide the buyers, encouraging them to look for pinabetes with a white seal, which is granted to authorized producers, and to warn about legal penalties for acquiring the tree illegally, Noguera explained to Tierramérica.
Illegal extraction of this tree carries fines of 10,000 to 20,000 questzales (1,317 to 2,635 dollars) and possible prison terms of five to 10 years.
Pacific Reserve Expanded for Species Protection
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The Colombian Ministry of Environment extended the fauna and flora sanctuary from six to 25 nautical miles from Malpelo Island, located in the Pacific Ocean.
Julia Miranda, director of Colombia's nature parks, said this expansion means the conservation of Bajo Bojacá, another area near Malpelo, which is up to 281 meters deep and is home to plant and animal species that are heading towards extinction.
Manuela Herrera, biologist at the state-run University of the Atlantic, told Tierramérica that the extended boundaries will also facilitate more research in the marine depths of Colombian waters.
Malpelo, declared a nature sanctuary in 1995, is part of the 51 areas covered by the National Park System, which protects 11.2 million hectares, of which 976,163 hectares are marine areas.
In Search of Young Eco-Leaders
BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- Around a hundred children and youths from Latin America are in the running to be part of the "Ecopibes" council, an Argentine organization dedicated to education for sustainable development.
Ecopibes set up three age groups -- younger than 13, 13 to 18, and older than 18 -- to apply for the collegial body, which will draw up and voteon environmental proposals.
Cecilia Iglesias, Ecopibes president, told Tierramérica that three candidates will be selected from each Latin American country, one from each age group.
"The idea is a space for discussion about the path of the project and an exercise to strengthen democratic values," she said, noting that the organization has already received some "very interesting" applicant profiles. The selection process remains open at www.ecopibes.com. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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