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Eco-Briefs

 BRAZIL 
 
 Sewage Water Contaminates Crops


RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 21 (Tierramérica).- Sewage water can be used to boost agricultural yields, as Tierramérica has reported, but can also contaminate crops and soil with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Such was the finding of the environmental unit of Brazil's agricultural research agency, Embrapa.

PAHs are organic pollutants, some are carcinogens, which can be absorbed by some plants, said Lourival Paraíba, an Embrapa researcher who coordinated a study that showed contamination of maize that had been fertilized with sewage mud.

Continued use of this sort of fertilizer can contaminate the soil for a long time, even decades, he said.

The agronomic advantages of the mud are evident - it is high in nutrients - but it is necessary to inform farmers and consumers about the risks of PAHs, chemical compounds "that nobody can see," so that people can decide on agricultural use of sewage, he told Tierramérica.


 VENEZUELA 
 
 CFCs on the Decline


CARACAS, 21 sep (Tierramérica).- Since 2004, Venezuela has reduced consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 90 percent, reports Osmer Castillo, president of the Industrial Reconversion Fund. These compounds, used in refrigeration, deplete the planet's ozone layer.

With four million dollars in its coffers, the Fund "has achieved conversion of 120 companies and trained some 5,000 refrigeration technicians in better use of equipment and tools, and in shifting to ecological or chlorine free gases, like 409-A (for household refrigerators) and 134-A (for vehicles)," Castillo told Tierramérica.

The Fund is completing a timeline that ends in 2010. Its most visible achievement was the 2007 closure of refrigerant factory - one of three in the region; the others were in Argentina and Mexico - in an agreement with the company owners.


 CUBA 
 
 Promoting Tourism in the Zapata Marsh


HAVANA, Sep 21 (Tierramérica).- Cuba has decided to boost the tourism profile of the Zapata Marsh, the Caribbean's largest wetland, but is implementing a strategy to ensure the preservation of this rich ecosystem, located 156 kilometers southeast of Havana.

"What we want is not size, but sustainability," said Pablo Bouza, director of the Zapata Marsh Nature Park, a protected area that is home to 115 endemic plant species, 258 bird species, 16 amphibians and 36 reptiles, among other natural riches.

"There are plans for appropriate management so that public use does not cause harm to the ecosystem's natural reserves," he told Tierramérica. The marsh was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2000 and a wetland of international importance in 2001 by the Ramsar Convention.

The Zapata Marsh served as the venue Sep. 14-18 of the 7th International Nature Tourism Event.


 HONDURAS 
 
 Endangered Species in Cloud Forest


TEGUCIGALPA, Sep 21 (Tierramérica).- Experts from the non-governmental Zamorano Biodiversity Center of Honduras have called on officials and community groups to preserve the cloud forest of the northern Yoro Mountain National Park.

Jorge Restrepo, director of the center, which is sponsored by the private agricultural university of El Zamorano, told Tierramérica that the forest is habitat to two species of reptile that are in danger of extinction.

They are the Bolitoglossa cataguana (a web-footed salamander) and the Anolis morazani (a small lizard). The latter is found only in this national park and was discovered by Honduran and U.S. scientists in 2006.

The Yoro Mountain's cloud forest is itself threatened due to ongoing deforestation.


 CHILE 
 
 Progress on Volcano Monitoring


SANTIAGO, Sep 21 (Tierramérica).- Chile's National Volcanic Monitoring Network is setting its sights on establishing four observatories by 2013.

The National Geology and Mining Service is currently updating the Observatory of the Southern Andes, in the central Chilean region of Araucanía.

The Service has already acquired new equipment, including 50 seismometers, and hired more staff, Jorge Muñoz, head of the Network, told Tierramérica.

In 2010-2011, an observatory will be built in the city of Coyhaique, in the southern region of Magallanes; in 2012 another in Talca, in the central region of Maule; and in 2013, one in the northern region of Antofagasta.

The total investment will be 30 million dollars, and will take place in the context of the bicentennial of Chile's independence from Spain. The South American country has more than 2,000 volcanoes, with 500 considered geologically active.


*Source: Inter Press Service.
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