LIMA, (Tierramérica).- Just three percent of the Peruvians consulted in a recent survey consider the environment a priority in political matters.
However, 85.4 percent of those polled said pollution of air and water, and waste management, are problems that need urgent action.
It is somewhat of a paradox, revealing the importance the population places upon social and economic problems, like unemployment and poverty, in addition to a high level of awareness about environmental phenomena, says the independent polling firm Cuando, entrusted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Forty-seven percent of poll respondents blamed their own communities for environmental problems, 20.7 percent said industry was responsible, 19.6 percent said it was the central government's problem, and 7.9 said it was the local government.
BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- The once-abundant population of mollusks on the Atlantic coast of Argentina's Buenos Aires province has declined at least 70 percent in some areas due to the impact of tourism, warn biologists from the University of Buenos Aires. In 1968, an average of 500 'almejas', bivalve mollusks, were found per square meter. Today, there are not even 60 per square meter, according to a new study.
Every Southern Hemisphere summer, the long chain of beaches in the province receives millions of visitors, many of whom use the clams as bait, or to use in cooking. This has caused a dramatic fall in the number and variety of species.
The stirring up of the sands as a result of construction and traffic also hurt the mollusks, which were so abundant in the late 1970s that they were sold commercially.
State of the Environment
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The natural wealth of Colombia, which possesses 10 percent of the world's biological diversity, is undermined by habitat deterioration, says the governmental Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies.
Colombia is among the richest countries in the world as far as water resources, but is losing potable water due to the gradual disappearance of marshes, which serve as filters, and the contamination of rivers, says the institute's latest report on the state of the country's environment.
The South American country also suffers from the effects of global warming, lack of adequate solid waste treatment and over-exploitation of its forests, says the study.
Indians Grow Organic Coffee Company
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- Communities in the Marcala region, in the central Honduran department of La Paz, created the first indigenous corporation for growing and selling organic coffee, in other words, free of agricultural chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment.
With support from FUNDER, a foundation for rural business development, small farmers of the Lenca community, one of seven indigenous groups in Honduras, began producing organic coffee two years ago.
The recently created company Funder-Café Orgánico will process and market the coffee beans grown on small family-owned plantations in Marcala, one of the leading Honduran coffee growing zones.
Coffee is the principal national export, producing 300 million dollars in revenues per year. But the decline in international coffee prices is forcing the country to seek alternatives, like organic production, which adds value to crops like coffee.
The indigenous-led endeavor promotes democratic participation and solidarity with small farmers, who tend to be isolated and would otherwise lack power to negotiate export prices.
Fomenting Forest Production
MANAGUA, (Tierramérica).- The government of Nicaragua is attempting to mitigate a drop-off in exports and reduce its 600-million-dollar fiscal deficit through the promotion of six industries, including sustainable forestry.
The idea is to make sustainable use of lumber resources, creating finished wood products, and "quit selling mere boards", Franklin Bordas Lowery, an official from the Nicaraguan Agricultural and Forestry Ministry's forestry project, told Tierramérica.
According to official figures, the country has 2.6 million hectares of forest plantations, which constitute more than 80 million cubic meters of wood.
The forestry industry provides 3.5 million dollars annually to Nicaragua's gross domestic product, says the Central Bank. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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