BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- An Internet site based in Argentina is promoting environmental education among Latin American children and adolescents.
"If the environment didn't exist, then we wouldn't either," says Fátima, a Bolivian girl. "What would happen if the ozone hole grows?" wonders Luciana, from Argentina. "We have to take care of the environment so that the world doesn't end and we can go on living," warns Jesús, a Nicaraguan boy.
These youths concerned about the environment had the opportunity to communicate with each other, lay out their doubts, make criticisms, propose solutions and even play on the web site EcoPibes, developed in Argentina six years ago. The name of the Internet site comes from "pibe", which in Argentina means "kid".
This environmental education project is aimed at the Spanish-speaking younger generations and is based on using computers and telecommunications. "We don't go to the classroom, we do it over the Internet," Cecilia Iglesias, director of the web site, told Tierramérica. She was recognized in 2004 as Outstanding Argentine Youth in environmental leadership by the non-governmental International Youth Foundation.
EcoPibes was chosen this year for a presentation in Washington at the conference Youth Social Technopreneurship: Taking it Global, organized by the World Bank, and others, along with three other projects in China, India and Sierra Leone that apply information and communication technologies for development and which involve youth. To learn more about the project, connect yourself to: www.ecopibes.com
Presidential Candidate Opposes Native Forest Law
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- Michelle Bachelet, candidate for the governing center-left coalition in Chile and favored in the polls for the Dec. 11 presidential elections, expressed her opposition to the native forests bill, which has the preliminary approval of a Senate commission.
In her response to a questionnaire by the environmental watchdog Greenpeace, Bachelet said the proejct, which would regulate management and conservation of Chile's autochthonous forests, "does not have the necessary political foundations, and won't be approved by the parliament during under the current government (of President Ricardo Lagos)."
Flavia Liberona, coordinator of the Native Forest Network, made up of 21 organizations, told Tierramérica that "it is not coherent that the current agricultural minister (Jaime Campos) issues an apology for the project and that its presidential candidate has a totally different view."
Green Horseback Ride
MEXICO CITY, (Tierramérica).- On horseback and bearing a message of respect for the environment and cultural diversity, a group of people is traveling across Mexico, reviving a sort of nomadic life.
"We are visiting different countries to share a message in favor of nature and setting the example of a communal way of life, free, adventuresome and respectful of the Earth," Kareen Kohn, an Israeli and leader of the group Nomads United, told Tierramérica.
The group, created in 1998 and comprising 60 people, arrived in Mexico this year for their trek through rural areas, during which they hope to promote peaceful coexistence, organic farming and complete respect for the environment.
To finance their activities, the group, which includes several artists, gives presentations in multicultural dance and other circus-like shows. Connect to www.nomadsunited.com to learn more.
Guácharo Cave Is Crumbling
CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Stalactites, stalagmites and other formations in Guáharo Cave, in northeast Venezuela, the largest in the country at 10.2 km long, are threatened by sewage, garbage left behind by visitors, and rats that are destroying birdnests.
"It is the only Venezuelan cave outfitted for tourist visits, and has rich biodiversity that is always being studied," geographer Efraín Tapiquén, of La Salle Natural History Museum, told Tierramérica. "The government should declare an emergency," he said.
Already declared a natural monument, national park and a candidate for a UN natural heritage of humanity site for the last 25 years, the cave is famous for serving as home to the guácharo bird (Steatornis caripensis), which nests there, though feeds on fruits at night, flying great distances. The cave was explored two centuries ago by the famed German naturalist Alejandro Von Humboldt.
Horses for the Cure
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Experts from Cuba and Uruguay are working to build a Latin American alliance to promote "equine therapy", using horses as a therapuetical tool.
The experts are also thinking about opening a school in Cuba, given the country's methodology and scientific experience, Néstor Nieves, president of Uruguay's National Assocation of Equestrian Rehabilitation, ANRE. To complement the professional training of the Cuban experts in rehabilitation, Uruguay would add its experience in raising and training horses.
Equine therapy is used to help people affected by psychosomatic or emotional illness, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cardiopathies and brain lesions.
The results are "amazing " in children who are blind and deaf, "who often at age five or older still can't walk, but with treatment they achieve it," said Cuban expert Carlos Lleras.
Promoting Fruit Growing
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- With the aim of developing Guatemala's fruit industry, the government will plant 6,149 new areas with fruit species, announced Alvaro Aguilar, agriculture minister.
"With this plan, 3,000 farmers will benefit directly, and it is expected to generate 216,000 workdays during the first year," he added.
Aguilar told Tierramérica that the initiative is intended "to take on the various free trade treaties" signed by Guatemala with several countries, including the United States and Taiwan. It involves 840,000 lime, lemon, mango, apricot, mandarin, orange and other fruit trees
Japan will contribute 1.6 million dollars to a sub-program for the development of fruit farming for organized producers and the Agriculture Ministry will give 800,000 dollars for support services for harvesting and post-harvest needs of fresh fruits
Border Zone Development
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- A million-dollar project to promote ecological, tourism, agricultural and archeological development in western Honduras, in the area bordering Guatemala, was recently approved by the BCIE, the Central American Economic Integration Bank, as part of a bilateral plan between the two nations.
Armida López, one of the three vice-presidents of Honduras and in charge of the development of the country's border zones, told Tierramérica that the funds total some five million dollars and are part of a loan that is intended "to cushion the impact of poverty along the borders, as well as promoting plans for sustainable development and environmental protection."
"We hope to benefit more than 3,500 families located in the three border departments: Cortés, Copán and Santa Bárbara," she said.
Conference to Set Environment Policies
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- "Integrated environmental policy and sustainable use of natural resources" will be the central themes of the second National Conference on the Environment, in which government and civil society delegates will participate in Brasilia, Dec. 10-13.
"We defend the intensive and critical participation of civil society" to ensure compliance with the measures approved in the first conference, said Temistocles Marcelo Neto, secretary of the Brazilian Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Movements for the Environment and Development.
But some groups will not take part in this event organized by the Environment Ministry. They are protesting that the government failed to heed the recommendations made in 2003, and released genetically modified products without prior environmental assessment, according to Neto.
Pedro Ivo Batista, general coordinator of the conference, denied that the government had failed to comply, and advocated for the conference to be held every three years, and expanding the preparatory debates. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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