HAVANA, Dec 17 (Tierramérica).- A biogas plant with a capacity of 80 cubic meters is being built on a poultry farm in Cuba, one more to add to the 65 medium and large plants already operating in the livestock province of Las Tunas.
This one in particular is part of a workshop given there by experts from the Energy Institute of Hanoi to foment the use of biogas as an alternative energy source.
"We are betting on biogas as the principal alternative contributor, with benefits for the environment, soil improvement and lower investment costs," Manuel Díaz, president of Cubasolar, a non-governmental clean energy group, told Tierramérica.
The second to two courses concluded this month, given by Vietnamese experts, with 35 professionals receiving training.
Moss Under Threat from Christmas
CARACAS, Dec 17 (Tierramérica).- Bags of moss sell for a dollar per half-kilo on the sidewalks of downtown Caracas and in other Venezuelan cities, often with the officials looking the other way. It is against the law, but the moss is used in Nativity scenes and other Christmas holiday decorations.
Although it is part of tradition, "extracting moss advances deforestation and soil erosion, as well as reducing the moisture in the forests and the ability of the plants to reproduce," biologist Argelia Silva, of the Central University of Venezuela, told Tierramérica.
Moss, she pointed out, is not cultivated, and takes up to 20 years to regenerate. The Environment Ministry is launching a campaign to convince consumers to recycle branches and leaves or to use wood shavings or other materials in their Christmas decorations.
Sylvester Stallone's Company Fined for Harming Corals
TEGUCIGALPA, Dec 17 (Tierramérica).- The Honduran Secretariat of Environment handed down a 42,000-dollar fine to a hotel for having contaminated the coral reefs in an untouched area of Guanaja Island, in the Caribbean Sea.
The majority shareholders in the firm, Iguana Bay Resort, are Hollywood actors Christopher Lamb and Sylvester Stallone, whose representative in Honduras is former tourism minister Thierry Pierrefeu.
"There was serious damage. They built without authorization and we have to set a precedent," René Zúniga, the government's environment prosecutor, told Tierramérica. He said that an inspection a month ago showed harmful impacts from the resort and it was decided to fine the company and to supervise another hotel project that is just getting started.
The zone has protected status because of the abundance of its coral reefs.
Opposition to Amazon Dam
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 17 (Tierramérica).- The Brazilian hydroelectric dam Santo António, on the Madeira River in the Amazon, will continue under attacks from environmental and social movements, although its construction between 2008-2012 was sealed in bidding on Dec. 10, with a consortium headed by the Odebrecht firm coming out on top.
"The project will affect 5,000 families who live near the river," Wesley Ferreira, activist with a movement of communities harmed by the construction of dams, told Tierramérica. The movement represents one million Brazilian families.
"Prices will go up as a result of real estate speculation, imbalances in family farming and the extractive activities of indigenous and river communities," he added.
It will mean the concentration of thousands of workers, "and the news about the increased supply of energy and jobs will attract many more people," said André Muggiati, speaking on behalf of Greenpeace's Amazon campaign.
Four hydroelectric dams are planned to be built along the Madeira River.
Peasant Farmers Consider Community Forestation
SANTIAGO, Dec 17 (Tierramérica).- The experience of eight forestry projects carried out between March 2005 and December 2006 by indigenous peoples and small farmers in southern Chile has been systematized in a book by the Forestry Engineers for Native Forest Association (AIFBN).
The principal lesson was that "the objectives of the projects have to respond completely to the interests of the communities," and should last at least five years, René Reyes, of AIFBN, told Tierramérica.
Criticisms have emerged against the forestry companies, for isolating and channeling water away from the communities and for destroying the biodiversity, he said.
"Cultivating hope, harvesting joy" describes the projects in the southern Chilean regions of Aracuanía and Los Lagos -- from the recovery of wetlands to native forest management --, financed by the United Nations Development Program. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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