BUENOS AIRES, Oct 18 (Tierramérica).- Environmental and citizen groups in the southern Argentine province of Río Negro are sounding the alarm against China's multi-million-dollar plan to expand soybean production in the area.
According to members of the Piuké Ecologist Association along with high-level officials of the provincial government, an agreement with China could be signed at month's end during a trip to China by Governor Miguel Saiz.
The plan calls for an investment of 100 million dollars for an irrigation system that would allow the cultivation of 200,000 non-adjoining hectares of soy, activist Alejandro Yanniello told Tierramérica.
"In order to convert that arid soil into cultivable land they are going to remove and destroy other crops and plants, damaging biodiversity and food sovereignty," he said.
Taking Steps to Protect Emerald Hummingbird
TEGUCIGALPA, Oct 18 (Tierramérica).- Honduran officials have set limits for a stretch of highway in the northern department of Yoro, home to the endangered emerald hummingbird (Amazilia luciae).
The World Bank will finance the planned 46.4-kilometer highway -- if the builders can present guarantees that the Honduran emerald will be protected.
Hugo Barnica, one of the three Honduran vice-presidents, told Tierramérica that they are studying monitoring measures, environmental impact mitigation, and protection of the hummingbird habitat, as well as plans for environmental management and conservation.
"We have signed an agreement with the entities responsible for building the highway and for protecting the environment, with clear definitions to ensure compliance," he said.
Cerrado Savannah Fires Increase 350 Percent
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 18 (Tierramérica).- Fires in the Cerrado, the Brazilian savannah, jumped 350 percent this year compared to the 2009 total, according to a study by INPE, the national space research institute, released Oct. 8. So far this year there have been 57,700 fires.
The Cerrado is Brazil's second largest biome, after the Amazon. Its original two million square kilometers have lost 48 percent of their native vegetation, according to the Environment Ministry.
"The fires are set in order to renew the pastures and 'clean' the land. To fight them we need to know if the cause is ignorance or wrongdoing," José Felipe Ribeiro, an expert with Embrapa, the Brazilian government's agricultural research agency, told Tierramérica.
In addition to destroying biodiversity, the burning emits greenhouse-effect gases. From 2002 to 2008, the average emissions from the Cerrado were 232 million tons of carbon dioxide. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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