RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Brazil is aware of just 10 percent of its biodiversity, very little if one considers that this giant country is home to an estimated two million species of plants and animal, representing 14 percent of the world total.
The classification of species is not only slow, but the process also tends to be concentrated in the south, southeast and Amazon regions, and is very limited in identifying microorganisms, like fungus and bacteria, say Thomas Michael Lewinsohn and Paulo Inacio Prado in a new book.
Experts from the State University of Campinas, Lewinsohn and Prado's "Brazilian Biodiversity: synthesis of the current state of knowledge" summarizes a broad study that included the participation of several other scientists. The Brazilian Ministry of Environment is publishing the book.
Havana River Clean-Up
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Cuba plans to build three water treatment plants and 255 km of sewage network this year to protect the Almendares River, the principal waterway in the island's capital.
The project has financial support from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Just 60 percent of the 2.2 million residents of Havana have sanitation services and a large portion of the household waste from the remaining population ends up in the Almendares.
The river as at the heart of the Metropolitan Park, a 700-hectare space that holds Havana's botanical gardens and the national zoo.
To the Rescue of the Orinoco Caiman
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Venezuela has adopted the endangered Orinoco caiman (Crocodylus intermedius) as the symbol of the National Games to be held in December in the central city of San Carlos, the environment ministry's regional director, Nerio Escobar, told Tierramérica.
The initiative is part of an official campaign to protect this species, also included in the preservation program of the international Crocodile Specialists Group.
In the early 19th century, German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt described the enormous populations of caimans in the rivers of today's Colombia and Venezuela. But no there are only around 1,000 of these reptiles remaining in 15 isolated groups in Venezuela.
The Orinoco caiman can grow to six meters long, but due to overhunting it is difficult to find an adult -- over 13 years old -- that is longer than four meters.
Ag Experts Meet in Costa Rica
SAN JOSE, (Tierramérica).- Agriculture specialists from Latin America and the United States are gathering in the Costa Rican capital Mar 19-21 to discuss financial mechanisms and strategies to help small farmers prosper, but without harming the environment.
The Latin American farm sector is working to adopt new technologies and funds to help producers survive the sharp decline in international prices for agricultural commodities.
Farming could be Latin America's key for overcoming the international economic crisis, sources from the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), organizer of the conference, told Tierramérica.
Wanted: Commitment to Water
SAN SALVADOR, (Tierramérica).- - Environmental organizations in El Salvador are asking legislative candidates to sign a pledge to resolve the country's water supply problems without harming the environment and with the participation of civil society.
The activists urge the candidates in the Mar 16 elections to sign the Water and Environment Initiative, a promise to work on behalf of these two areas, according to the non-governmental Salvadoran Ecological Union.
The legislative actions of the elected officials with regard to natural resources will be tracked by the environmental groups
Forestry Law Fires Debate
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- The Agro-Forestry Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups, say the changes made to the forestry law -- currently being debated by the Honduran Congress -- would be detrimental to the country's woodlands.
Sections of the legislative bill on investigating the illegal settlement of protected areas and revoking irregular land titles could be eliminated, says the Alliance.
The reforms would be a step backward from "the consensus achieved between civil society, environmentalists and lawmakers at the end of last year," Alliance activist Rigoberto Sandoval told Tierramérica.
Three-quarters of Honduran territory are suitable for planting trees, and half is already covered by forest, but the pace of deforestation reaches 80,000 hectares a year, according to official figures. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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