CARACAS, Apr 30 (Tierramérica).- A lack of funds has forced the Centre for Sea Turtle Research and Conservation (CICTMAR) to cut back its patrolling of Cipara and Querepere beaches on the northeastern Venezuelan pensinsula of Paria, where female leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are laying their eggs.
"The night patrols that we have always carried out between Mar. 15 and Aug. 31 have been reduced to a minimum,” environmentalist Edelvys Guada of CICTMAR told Tierramérica.
These patrols “allow us to identify the mother turtles, collect the eggs and move them to a place where they are safe from predators, and later accompany the baby turtles as they make their way to the sea,” explained Guada.
The leatherback turtle, which can grow to up to two meters in length and weigh more than 600 kilos, is an endangered species.
The beaches on the Paria peninsula are one of their favorite nesting sites. CICTMAR has launched an “Adopt a Turtle” campaign as a means of raising funds to continue its work with the leatherbacks.
Community Works to Rescue Coastal Sand Dunes
TEGUCIGALPA, Apr 30 (Tierramérica).- The community of Santa Rosa de Aguán, in the northern Honduran department of Colón, is preparing to implement a plan to rehabilitate coastal sand dunes as a means of reducing its vulnerability to extreme weather events.
Mayra Gill of the Santa Rosa de Aguán Volunteer Committee told Tierramérica that this community was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and that “today we see how the deterioration of the dunes is increasing the risk of flooding.”
“We didn’t know what the dunes were or why they were important, and we had never heard of climate change, either, but now we are organizing ourselves to rehabilitate these mountains of sand,” she added.
With the support of the United Nations and the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development, the community plans to demolish concrete structures that obstruct the natural circulation of sand in the dunes along the Atlantic coast of Honduras.
New Technology Lowers Cost of Biodegradable Plastic
RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 30 (Tierramérica).- The Federal University of São Carlos is developing a new technology that will lower the cost of producing biodegradable plastics.
Most polymers, the chemical substances from which plastics are made, do not degrade naturally, and those that do are very costly.
The systems being developed by the university involve particles of ceramic and polymeric materials of nanometric dimensions (billionths of a meter) and offer better mechanical, optical and transport properties than conventional polymers.
“The improvement of these properties makes it possible, in the case of plastic bags, to reduce the amount of biodegradable polymers used, and thus the cost of the end product, while maintaining the capacity for more rapid degradation in comparison to traditional polymers,” professor Rosario Suman Bretas, the coordinator of the research project, told Tierramérica.
“Production is currently taking place the laboratory. It will take time to expand to an industrial scale,” she added.
Campaign for Communities Blighted by Pollution
SANTIAGO, Apr 30 (Tierramérica).- The Chilean environmental organization Oceana has launched a campaign to support the communities of Ventanas and Puchuncaví, which face severe impacts from the pollution created by a nearby copper foundry and three coal-fired thermoelectric power plants.
The communities are located 180 km northwest of Santiago in an area that has been declared by Oceana as one of the “sacrificial zones” of Chile, where large numbers of polluting industries are concentrated.
The campaign, which has been joined by Argentine singer/songwriter Pedro Aznar, is aimed at preventing the installation of new thermoelectric plants in “sacrificial zones” and demanding the implementation of effective anti-pollution plans.
“Our country cannot continue tolerating a situation where there are second-class citizens who must bear all of the costs of development, while a very few but very powerful industries earn disproportionately high profits,” Oceana executive director Alex Muñoz told Tierramérica. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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