RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Vilmar Berna, an environmental journalist who won the United Nations Global 500 prize in 1999, lives under a death threat issued more than a month ago in Niteroi, a city neighboring Rio de Janeiro. He filed a complaint and requested police protection last week but the response has been slow in coming.
His situation is worrisome because in February 2005 another environmentalist was murdered, Dionisio Julio Ribeiro, defender of the Tinguá Biological Reserve, also located in the Rio metropolitan area. A hunter confessed to the crime but was absolved in May "due to lack of evidence".
"Environmentalism is a high risk activity, and not just in the Amazon, because we oppose the anti-nature model of development," Berna told Tierramérica.
The violent reaction against activists may come from big landowners in the Amazon as well as the artisanal fisherfolk along the beach where he lives -- they fear his presence because they use illegal fishing methods, he explained.
Seeking Adoptive Parents for Turtles
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- A program to protect sea turtles of the southern Caribbean and the beaches of Venezuela began a new phase with the search for "adoptive parents" -- symbollically -- for each of the animals sighted by the Center for Researcha nd Conservation of Sea Turtles (CICTMAR).
"The symbolic adoption of a turtle or of its nest helps contribute with the annual financing for the care of 120 nests," CICTMAR director Hedelvy Guada explained to Tierramérica.
The cost of adopting a turtle of the leatherback species (Dermochelys conacea) is 30 dollars, and the renewal price is 25 dollars, if it is an individual adoption, and 140 dollars for a collective adoption. "We are promoting this approach for groups of friends, businesses or schools," said Guada.
Whoever adopts a turtle or nest receives a certificate, informational material and posters. Cictmar, in addition to protecting the nests, marking and studying the females, promotes education of the residents of Paria peninsula, in far northeastern Venezuela, to prevent harm to the species.
Forestry Certification on the Rise
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- Ten Honduran businesses are pioneers in forestry certification, a practice that is expected to gather strength by the end of the year, according to a program that has the government's backing.
"Certification is a letter of presentation that allows me to show that my company protects the environment -- an increasingly frequent demand in the international market," Alejandro Arguello, of the lumber exporter Yodeco Honduras, told Tierramérica.
The company, which has been producing pine for more than 50 years, manages 25,000 hectares of forest, and has recently certified 13,900 hectares.
Adolfo Lemus, the Central American and Caribbean manager of Smart Wood, an international certifying entity, has seen strong interest in the region in obtaining forestry certification "because it is a demand of globalization and even of free trade agreements. He says 53 companies are already certified in Central America.
Paper Mill Fined
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- The company Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO), located in the 10th Chilean region of Los Lagos, will have to pay a fine of about 60,000 dollars for the foul odors emanating from its mill in 2004, ruled the Appeals Court, upholding a sentence of the health authorities in the city of Valdivia.
The stench was perceptible 60 kilometers away, and triggered a range of health problems amongst the residents of San José de la Mariquina, north of Valdivia.
Lucio Cuenca, director of the Latin American Environmental Conflict Observatory (OLCA), said in a Tierramérica interview that the ruling sets a positive precedent, and activists hope for a repeat in other cases before the courts against CELCO, because, in his opinion, "there are administrative and environmental incidents that justify the closing of the mill."
Persistent Organic Pollutants Eliminated
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Residents of a small community outside the city of Guantánamo, 929 km east of Havana, have turned a dump into an environmental center that has reduced emissions of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into the atmosphere.
The Ecological Processing Center for Urban Waste (CEPRU), winner of this year's national environmental prize, emerged five years ago, though more recently, thanks to support from the Global Environment Facility, it also eliminated the unregulated burning of plastic waste.
Around one ton of plastic waste-- of high and low density -- arrives at the center each month. Now they are reused in a variety of ways in the Guantánamo neighborhood of La Isleta, home to 566 people.
The new practice eliminates the generation of toxic gases like dioxins and furans, which represents a six-percent reduction of emissions into the atmosphere, Fabio Fajardo, coordinator in Cuba of the GEF small grants program, told Tierramérica.
Deadly Attacks Against Ecologists
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- At least 115 environmental activists, technicians and workers have been the subject of violence, kidnapping and even murder in the last 16 years in Guatemala, says a report by the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS).
"We wanted to know specifically how risky the situation is for this group in Guatemala, where there are no guarantees for protecting the environment," CALAS director Yuri Melini told Tierramérica.
In the most recent case, members of the National Council of Protected Areas, the police and army were held for several days in June by a heavily armed group in Sierra del Lacandón, in the northern department of Petén, bordering Mexico.
In November 2005, forest rangers Mario Pop and Julio Vásquez were abducted and have not been found. The two worked at the biological station of the private Universidad del Valle in Atitlán volcano, west of the capital, Melini said.
That same month, a technician from the National Forestry Institute and a soldier in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, also in Petén, were murdered. *Source: Inter Press Service.
up for Tierramerica's free weekly newsletter!