GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- Some 75 million trees are to be planted in Guatemala before 2008 as part of the ''Guate Verde'' plan, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Mario Dary told Tierramérica.
Sustainable forest exploitation is one of the priorities of the plan developed in coordination with the National Planning Secretariat, the National Institute of Forests and the National Council for Protected Areas, said Dary.
''Guate Verde'' will also focus on social protection in confronting natural disasters, food security in 41 municipalities, and environmental education.
This ''green'' initiative will also promote sustainable rural production, eco- and ethno-tourism, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Reporter Faces Trial for Defending Environment
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- - Journalist Frank Mejía tried to protect the trees in the Honduran capital's main park, and ended up in the courts, accused of ''disobedience''.
With the stated intention of remodeling and decorating the park, the Tegucigalpa government decided to cut down trees where numerous types of birds had built their nests.
On Jan. 6, the day the park's plaza was inaugurated after being closed to the public for one year, Mejía, who works for the local Monumental radio station, showed up carrying a protest sign, and was beaten and detained by the police.
''I don't plan to retract my statement that the city government committed an environmental crime by cutting down the trees without serious previous study. I have proof,'' Mejía told Tierramérica. Sources close to the case said that a deal might be reached between the reporter and the municipality.
Bio-Construction at the World Social Forum
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The 5th World Social Forum put into practice the technique of bio-construction -- ''less expensive and more ecologically correct'' -- in building the venues for five days of conferences and debate by 120,000 civil society activists gathered in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
Low-cost, recycled, and agricultural materials were used in the construction of some of the 205 auditoriums and 293 tents used by the crowds of Forum-goers.
Roofs were made of straw, floors were made of stone, and walls were made of mud, cutting costs up to 80 percent in comparison with conventional building, according to Gabriel Barreto, one of the architects responsible.
These alternative materials also provide greater comfort in terms of temperature, and greater energy efficiency.
Ecologists Applaud Energy Efficiency Plan
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- The non-governmental Sustainable Chile Program congratulated Economy Minister Jorge Rodríguez for presenting a National Energy Efficiency Project, which includes standards for both the public and private sectors for rational use and saving energy.
''We cannot allow that the country's economy grows 3.5 percent but energy consumption grows seven percent a year. This is a sign of inefficiency and intensive energy use, which generates more use of fuel and more pollution,'' Sustainable Chile director Sara Larraín told Tierramérica.
The plan presented by Rodríguez is the first of its kind in Chile. It establishes rules for electronic equipment and includes specific programs for mining, trade and public lighting.
Restrictions in natural gas supplies from Argentina prompted the government to develop this new plan.
Community Education to Save Birds
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Residents of coastal ecosystems in two Cuban provinces, like their counterparts in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, are learning in conference and workshops about protecting the 'yaguasa criolla' (Dendrocygna arobrea), a Caribbean bird that faces extinction.
This endemic species lives in mangroves, marshes, lakes and swamps, in salt or fresh water, and was quite abundant in the Caribbean region until the early 20th century.
Today it is considered rare, endangered or even extinct, because humans are illegally hunting them, stealing eggs from their nests and destroying the yaguasa's crucial wetlands habitat.
The community education program is under way in Los Palacios and La Sierpe, in the provinces of Pinar del Río (west) and Sancti Spíritus (central), respectively, with the backing of the University of Havana and two British non-governmental organizations.
Indians Pro-Water, Anti-Coal
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Indigenous and peasant communities of the northwestern Venezuelan oil-producing state of Zulia, bordering Colombia, founded the Water for Life Committee as a counterweight to a government proposal to mine coal in the watersheds of the area's two main rivers, the Socuy and Cachirí, and the Tulé reservoir.
''The project threatens the health of some 500 families in nearby areas. Thousands of people would ingest contaminated water and would inhale the coal dust,'' Jorge Hinestroza, researcher with the regional University of Zulia, told Tierramérica.
The affected communities -- including Wayúu, Yucpa and Barí Indians -- are located in the Sierra de Perijá, a range that separates Venezuela and Colombia.
Coal mining on the Venezuelan side produces 10 million tons a year (on the Colombian side, the Cerrejón mine produces twice that) and the plan of the state mining agency Carbozulia is to triple the extraction volume in three years. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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