HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Cuban technicians are receiving training in Germany to recover an arid zone in the southeastern province of Guantánamo, one of the Caribbean island's most fragile ecosystems.
The initiative is part of a program financed by the Cuban government and the European Union to convert that part of Guantánamo into a regional model for sustainable development.
Beginning next year, the program is to ensure the self-sufficiency of families in supplies of vegetables and animal-based foods, and to create jobs for more than 30,000 of the area's residents.
More than a sixth of Cuban territory, of 110,000 square km, is partially or totally desertified, a phenomenon the National Program against Desertification and Drought, created in 1995, seeks to reverse.
Wild Animals Released
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- The wild animal rehabilitation center of the Pro-Defense of Flora and Fauna National Committee released two chilla foxes (Pseudalopex griseus) and two quiques (Galictis cuja), species threatened by hunters and smugglers.
The chilla foxes arrived at the center as orphaned pups that had been rescued by individuals, while the quiques were seized from illegal animal traffickers. After rehabilitation, the animals were returned to their natural habitat.
At the Rio Clarillo center, southwest of Santiago, veterinarians and other specialists treat and care for mammals and birds that have been wounded or orphaned.
The quique belongs to the family of mustelids, carnivores with a long body and short legs, like the mink, badger or nutria.
Green Tourism in Los Roques
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Los Roques Science Foundation and Ecoportal Wildlife Venezuela are attempting to turn the Los Roques archipelago, located in the Venezuelan Caribbean, into a destination for ecotourists.
The project, "Ecological Treasure in the Caribbean", is creating tourism packages that include instruction for visitors on the importance of preserving the natural resources of these islands, declared a national park in 1972. (www.ecoportal.venezuela.com)
Agro-Ecology Is Growing
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Family farming provides 70 percent of the food consumed in Brazil, representing an important step towards agro-ecology, say experts.
Brazil has several initiatives under way that favor ecological agriculture, such as sustainable harvests and biological control of pests, but they need to be more widespread, Mabel de Faría Melo, coordinator of the National Agro-Ecology Conference, told Tierramérica.
The meeting is to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Jul 30-Aug 2, with the participation of more than 500 farmers, researchers and activists.
The concept of agro-ecology encompasses fair distribution of land, water and land use, technology, education, and social policies, said Faría Melo.
PANAMA CITY, (Tierramérica).- The presence of African bees led to a 25-percent increase in the production and weight of two varieties of coffee grown in the western Panamanian province of Chiriquí, according to a study by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
The African bees, which arrived in the country in the 1980s, have sporadically attacked and killed humans, and have hurt the bee-keeping industry, particularly in Chiriquí, where a large portion of Panama's honey is produced.
But entomologist David W. Roubik conducted a five-year study that links those bees to the rise in production of caturra and catimor coffees. The area of study encompassed a 30 square km zone along the Costa Rican border.
Roubik's study was published in June by the science journal Nature and included in the book "Panama: Biological Bridge", edited by Panamanian anthropologist Stanley Heckadon-Moreno.
Sales of Oxygen to Netherlands
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- The Guatemalan government is negotiating an agreement for the sale of oxygen to the Netherlands, giving the European country a larger quota for the emission of greenhouse gases and the Central American nation resources to preserve its natural wealth.
The accord establishes that the Netherlands can purchase from Guatemala greenhouse gas reduction credits worth a total of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide until 2012.
The Dutch government is committed to investing the credits in Guatemalan projects and providing technical assistance.
Guatemalan officials state that this represents a major step towards the conservation of natural resources, though agree it is premature to talk about economic benefits.
Criticism of the deal came from Carlos Albacete, director of Trópico Verde, an environmental organization. He says the sale of oxygen is unethical because it allows industrialized countries to continue polluting. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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