BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- Colombia's environmental authorities have declared an ecological disaster as a result of the fires in the central-western nature park of Los Nevados that destroyed some 5,000 of the park's 58,000 hectares.
Former environment minister Juan Mayr told Tierramérica that the case is worrisome because the park acts as a big water plant in the central Andes mountains, where rivers are formed that are essential to the main coffee-growing areas of Colombia.
"We will look at all formulas of access to the international community -- economic and scientific -- to accelerate the recovery of these areas," said the current minister of environment, Juan Lozano.
Lozano noted that it could take at least 50 years to fully recuperate the areas destroyed by the fire.
First Map of Land Use
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- Technicians at Guatemala's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, along with the National Geographic Institute and other national entities, have drawn up the first Map of Vegetation Coverage and Land Use, for better planning of productive projects and to monitor deforestation.
The map, which collects information gathered between 2003 and 2005 and is based on satellite photos, cost 665,000 dollars, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Released on July 5, it is part of a package that will include another map of land ownership, and another of the country's infrastructure, ministry official José Miguel Duro told Tierramérica.
The study shows that Guatemala is 37.26 percent forest, 27.53 percent farmland, 1.84 percent wetland, 1.59 percent water bodies, and 1.08 percent infrastructure.
Collecting Funds to Protect Jaguar
MEXICO CITY, (Tierramérica).- The Mexican environmental group Naturalia launched a national fundraising effort last weekend to expand the 4,000-hectare protected area of the jaguar (Panthera onca) set aside in the northern state of Sonora in 2003.
Donations will be collected at all of the country's zoos, which receive 25 million visitors annually, Oscar Moctezuma, Naturalia director and member of an Environment Ministry consultative committee, told Tierramérica.
"The jaguar will be the first species of our campaign. Next year we will begin a new campaign to support the preservation of another endangered species," he added, as the protected area is home to other types of animals as well.
There are about 150 jaguars in northwestern Mexico, said Moctezuma, but there are no figures available about the population of this big cat in the rest of the country.
Another Highway Threatens the Amazon
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Brazil's Ministry of Environment proposes creating 10 conservation areas along the route of highway BR-319, which will connect the Amazon cities of Porto Velho and Manaos.
The aim is to plan an "organized" occupation of the land, with farm regulation and a government presence to prevent deforestation, Mauricio Mercadante, the ministry's director of protected areas, told Tierramérica.
The proposal will be discussed at public hearings in six cities of the region in the next couple weeks.
The imminent paving of the route has environmentalists worried -- they see it as a threat to Amazonian ecosystems of vast biodiversity.
"We will only accept it if they ensure protection of indigenous lands and small farms, and benefits for other populations," as well as an environmental impact study, said Adilson Vieira, coordinator of the Amazon Working Group, a network of 600 local organizations.
A Warning on Dune Disappearance
BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- Sixty percent of the sand dunes have been lost in the last 35 years because of increased human activity in the eastern Argentine city of Puerto Madryn, on the Atlantic coast, says the Patagonia Natural Foundation.
Of the remaining dunes, "more than half exhibit an advanced state of degradation," with changes in flora and fauna.
Gabriela Degorgue, head of the study presented July 7, stressed for Tierramérica that the dunes "give an identity to the landscape, but they also play a fundamental role in preserving the beach; they protect the cost from erosion and are habitat for unique species."
"Without protection measure in the short term, there is a risk that there won't be any dunes left to protect," she said, urging an end to construction on the beach, restrictions on heavy machinery, and installation of special routes to reach the resorts.
Selective Garbage Collection Expands
SAO PAULO, (Tierramérica).- - The number of Brazilian communities with systems of selective garbage collection has increased 38 percent, according to a new study by CEMPRE, a business organization that promotes recycling.
The southeastern cities of Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Santos are some of the 327 that already have this recycling service in place, and which reaches 25 million Brazilians.
"There is greater perception that the local governments invest more in this service, to the extent that gradually the population is more interested in it," CEMPRE director André Vlhena explained to Tierramérica.
In Vilhena's opinion, the social commitment in Brazil is greater than in developed countries, so its model for selective collection of waste materials is being exported to other developing countries.
CEMPRE has been studying collection of recyclable urban waste since 1994, when just one percent of all waste in Brazil was being recycled. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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