RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 16 (Tierramérica).- The Pampa, the biome of prairies in Brazil's far south, has already lost 54 percent of its original vegetation, according to figures from the Ministry of Environment, which show that 2,183 square kilometers were destroyed between 2002 and 2008.
"Industrial forestry, hydroelectric dams and urban growth are the causes of the devastation" in these areas, "which do not receive their due recognition in the national arena," said Leonardo Stahnke, of the Brazil Pampa Institute.
"The destruction of the Amazon and the Atlantic Forest are important problems, but the plains are home to species as unique to open areas as the species that are adapted to the other ecosystems," Stahnke said in a Tierramérica interview.
The Brazilian Pampa covers half of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where forests are limited to riverbanks. Of the five national biomes, it presents the least annual destruction, with just 0.20 percent, compared to 0.69 percent of the Cerrado, the Brazilian savanna, located in the west.
Cleaning Up the Malecón
HAVANA, Aug 16 (Tierramérica).- Residents of Havana have begun to gather along the Cuban capital's Malecón, an eight-kilometer esplanade and roadway, to clean up the garbage left by pedestrians.
"Our effort will directly affect the people who enjoy the Malecón, and serve as a better example than the thousand TV announcements or signs that say 'Don't Throw Garbage Here'," Isabel Díaz, coordinator of the environmental project El Guardabosques, said to Tierramérica.
Thousands of people head to the Malecón every summer to flee the heat, sitting on the sea wall along Havana's northern coast.
El Guardabosques convened a clean-up day for Aug. 13, repeating the effort a few weeks earlier of students and professors from the University of Havana.
"We want to repeat that action for one of our city's most beautiful locations," said Díaz.
Warning Against Tourism on Protected Islands
CARACAS, Aug 16 (Tierramérica).- Venezuelan environmentalists are on alert after President Hugo Chávez proposed organizing massive tourism to Los Roques archipelago, an idyllic group of Caribbean islands with white sands and turquoise waters, 180 kilometers north of Caracas.
"Who visits Los Roques? The rich. Why can't a commune from Vargas have an inn on Los Roques? We have to break down the paradigms of our geography," Chávez said on his television program.
Bellatrix Molina, director general of Los Roques Scientific Foundation, told Tierramérica that "massive tourism would devastate a national park like the archipelago. Because of its fragility and logistics, Los Roques cannot receive massive numbers of tourists, whether rich or poor."
With 65 small inns, and 1,600 residents who make their livelihood from fishing and tourism, Los Roques already receives 100,000 visitors per year. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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