Finalists Announced for Environmental “Anti-Prize”
SANTIAGO, Jun 11 (Tierramérica).- The Chilean branch of international environmental watchdog Greenpeace is running its annual competition for the awarding of “anti-prizes” to the government authorities, politicians and businessmen who have been responsible for the worst environmental damages in the previous year.
“The aim is to highlight the misdeeds of high-profile public figures to expose their disregard for the environment,” Greenpeace Chile executive director Matías Asún told Tierramérica.
Three finalists have already been selected for the Environmental “Condorazo” Prize, whose name refers to a cartoon character and is a Chilean slang term used to describe foolish behavior.
They are Supreme Court Justice Pedro Pierry, accused of a conflict of interest in his ruling in favor of the HidroAysén hydroelectric dam project; businessman Erick von Baer, who concealed his use of genetically modified crops; and Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, for his failure to monitor and control pollution in the beach resort town of Ventanas caused by a thermoelectric power plant.
At press time more than 12,000 people had cast their votes on the website for the competition, http://www.condorazoambiental.cl/. Voting will continue until Jun. 13, when the winner will be announced.
Thousands of Species of Fungus in the Atlantic Forest
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 11 (Tierramérica).- A study by the Luiz de Queiroz Higher School of Agriculture at the University of São Paulo has identified almost 1,840 species of fungus in the soil of the Mata Atlântica, a tropical forest biome on the eastern coast of Brazil.
The results are based on soil samples gathered under three species of trees. “These organisms carry out essential functions for the equilibrium of the ecosystem and could contribute to science and biotechnology. The data collected will aid their preservation,” biologist and head researcher Vivian Gonçalves Carvalho told Tierramérica.
Previous studies used laboratory cultivation methods, “but many species of fungus have specific nutritional demands and will not grow that way. Our records are more precise,” she added. Moreover, “the total number of species is probably much greater, considering the total area of the Mata Atlântica."
More Protection for Trees in Caracas Demanded
CARACAS, Jun 11 (Tierramérica).- Local residents and environmentalists are angry that a dozen trees were cut down to clear the way for a new mausoleum on the north side of Caracas to house the remains of Venezuela’s independence leader and founding father, Simón Bolívar.
“They have acted in an ad hoc manner, cutting down trees when it was not necessary in a historic site, despite the fact that Venezuela has signed the Florence and Venice Charters, which defend the preservation of historic gardens as heritage sites,” protested the president of the San José Defense Committee, Aníbal Isturdes. Representatives of the construction firm have stated that new trees will be planted in the area.
Yazenia Frontado, from the environmental organization Vitalis, told Tierramérica that "the municipal authorities of greater Caracas are responsible for the inventory and care of trees. Some establish a requirement to plant five trees for every tree cut down.”
“But this requirement is often not met,” she added, “and in the meantime, trees throughout the city, two out of every three, are becoming diseased, attacked by parasitic plants and insects.”
Children Head Up Environmental Patrols
TEGUCIGALPA, Jun 11 (Tierramérica).- Girls and boys from ten schools in Tegucigalpa are collecting and recycling trash and using the proceeds to pay for their own school snacks, as well as taking part in patrols that educate the public and ensure that garbage is deposited in the proper place.
David Blanco, one of the teachers promoting the project at a school in the marginalized neighborhood of Los Pinos, on the south side of Tegucigalpa, told Tierramérica that the initiative is part of the environmental education efforts being undertaken in conjunction with other schools, with the support of the local government’s environmental unit.
The experience has sparked interest in two other schools in the southern Honduran city of San Lorenzo, in the department of Valle, which are now working to create their own environmental patrols for waste management and environmental protection in a region affected by heavy deforestation. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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