Issue of December, 29, 2008
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 Protests Against Rally Dakar

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 29 (Tierramérica).- Environmental and citizen groups, academics and lawmakers in Argentina are protesting the Rally Dakar 2009, the race that will be held for the first time in South America, in January, passing through 10 of the country's provinces.

The former Rally Paris-Dakar will take place Jan. 3-18 in Argentine and Chilean territory. More than a thousand cars, trucks, and motorcycles from different countries will race 9,500 kilometers through 10 provinces in Argentina and three regions of Chile, crossing nature preserves, protected areas and natural monuments.

"It isn't promoting the good of anything, and from the environmental perspective it's a disaster," Andrés Demitriu, of the National University of Comahue, in the southern Argentine Patagonia, said in a Tierramérica interview. "We will be mere scenery," he added.

"The Europeans would never accept a competition like this" on their continent, said Dimitriu. The rally is being organized by the French company Amaury Sport Organization and has been approved by Argentina's national authorities.

 Unstoppable Logging in Monarch Butterfly Reserve

MEXICO CITY, Dec 29 (Tierramérica).- Logging has not stopped in the monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico, report local residents. The butterflies make annual migrations between Mexico and the United States and Canada.

Deforestation continues, "the lumber is leaving on trucks all the time," rural resident Francisco Suárez told Tierramérica. He lives near the Crescencio Morales ejido (rural cooperative), in the heart of the reserve shared by Michoacán and Mexico states, west of Mexico City.

The ejido, inside the 11,000 hectares of the reserve's core, is the most conflictive site in the area because of agricultural disputes, according to authorities.

Suárez, who did not give his residence for fear of reprisals, said that there are "powerful armed groups" that continue logging the forest in Crescencio Morales.

Half of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) reserve is degraded due to the lack of trees that are essential to the hundreds of millions of these insects that fly there from as far away as 5,000 km from the north.

 Fisherfolk Protect Marine Resources

TEGUCIGALPA, Dec 29 (Tierramérica).- Fishing communities from the southern Honduran Gulf of Fonseca, on the Pacific coast, began construction in December of the first center for production and management of marine resources, in waters that Honduras shares with Nicaragua and El Salvador.

The purpose of the center is to control fishing activities, encourage participation of fishing families in direct sale of their product, identify endangered marine species in order to protect them, and establish resource management plans.

The center is located on Isla del Tigre, in the department of Valle, and financed by international assistance from Spain, Agriculture Minister Héctor Hernández told Tierramérica.

In 2009, additional units will be set up in the department of Choluteca, also on the Pacific. Southern Honduras is among the poorest and most environmentally degraded regions of the country, as a result of deforestation, overfishing and the destruction of coastal mangrove forests.

 Ranching Is the Leading Cause of Amazon Destruction

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 29 (Tierramérica).- In Ulianópolis, one of the Brazilian Amazon's most deforested municipalities, 76 percent of the land that was forested is now pasture, according to data from the government's Amazon Protection System.

The information from Ulianópolis, in the northern state of Pará, confirms that cattle raising is the main activity behind deforestation.

The situation is repeated throughout the Amazon region, according to the coordinator of the non-governmental Center for Life Institute, Sergio Guimarães.

"Sixty percent of the deforested areas of the Amazon are destined for pastureland, and very rarely is the forest converted directly to agriculture, which nearly always expands in lands already cleared for livestock," Guimarães explained to Tierramérica.

Often, cattle are used only for illegal possession of the land and real estate speculation. "The land itself produces much more than ranching in itself," he said.

*Source: Inter Press Service.
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