RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The Mar. 30 space flight of Marcos Pontes, Brazil's first astronaut, "will give visibility to our space program and will make citizens understand why it is necessary," Sergio Mauricio Brito Gaudenzi, president of the Brazilian Space Agency, told Tierramérica.
Pontes will travel aboard the Russian spaceship Soyuz, launched from Kazakhstan and traveling to the International Space Station, where he will coordinate several experiments.
Space technology has completely changed the way we see and care for the environment, according to Gaudenzi. Now in orbit, a Chinese-Brazilian satellite provides images of the planet's surface, highlighting, for example, the status of environmentally protected areas, like the Amazon.
All the knowledge we seek through space exploration has as an objective the improviment of life for everyone on Earth," he said.
Sustainable Development for Wetlands
, (Tierramérica).- An environmental organization in Argentina presented a project for the sustainable development of a wetland in the eastern region, considered a priority area for the conservation of biodiversity.
The initiative comes from the Fundación Vida Silvestre (Wildlife Foundation), with the support of other local non-governmental groups, and from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.
Marcelo Acerbi, the foundation's conservation director, told Tierramérica that the success of the project "will depend on the participation" of the residents of the area, and the idea is to develop hunting, fishing, ranching, forestry and tourism -- but in ways that preserve biodiversity.
he wetland, covering more than 3.3 million hectares, is located in the Great American Chaco, and encompasses the northwest of Santa Fe province, the southwest portion of Chaco, and the east of Santiago del Estero province.
Water Fund Created
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- Environmental, business, government and local entities have launched the Water Fund to improve the quality and quantity of freshwater in Guatemala.
The Fund will work with water coming from the Motagua-Polochic watershed system in the eastern Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, says executive director Lorena Calvo.
The project is an initiative of the Defenders of Nature Foundation, developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and with backing from other organizations and companies, both national and international, she told Tierramérica.
Due to waste and mismanagement, the rivers of the Motagua-Polochic watershed flow at a lower volume each year, a problem exacerbated by other environmental issues like contamination, Calvo said.
Carlos Morales, of WWF Central America, said the reserve has been a protected area since 1990 and its rivers supply the lower portion of the sierra, in Motagua Valley.
Eco-Education Under Scrutiny
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The southern Brazilian city of Joinville will host the 5th Ibero-American Congress on Environmental Education, Apr. 5-8. In Brazil, 96 percent of primary school students attend classes specializing in environmental education.
There are 32 million children who, in addition to classwork, also participate in such things as environmental and quality of life commissions, in which "a youth educates another youth," mobilizing students and the local community, explained Raquel Trajber, general coordinator for environmental ed at the Ministry of Education.
he theme of the congress is "The contribution of environmental education to planetary sustainability" -- the event is expected to draw 4,500 participants, far surpassing expectations, and will entail a variety of symposiums and an environmental technology fair.
Promoting Natural Gas Vehicles
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The private company Gas Natural S.A. announced investments of around 4.4 million dollars over three years to develop a conversion program so that vehicles in the Colombian capital and surrounding communities can run on natural gas.
The private company Gas Natural S.A. announced investments of around 4.4 million dollars over three years to develop a conversion program so that vehicles in the Colombian capital and surrounding communities can run on natural gas.
Rafael Mateus, public relations manager for the company, told Tierramérica that the resources are earmarked for building and adapting fueling stations for natural gas, installing monitoring centers and importing compressors.
For this year, the company's goal is to build 60 natural gas filling stations, which will give Bogotá a total of 91 such stations, and enable more people to drive cars based on a cleaner fuel -- one that produces less "greenhouse" gases that contribute to global warming.
On Colombia's roads and streets today, there are about 100,000 vehicles running on natural gas. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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