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Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 82

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 12 BRASILIA 002150

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS USAID TO LAC/RSD, LAC/SAM, G/ENV, PPC/ENV
TREASURY FOR USED IBRD AND IDB AND INTL/MDB
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE: LIZ MAHEW
INTERIOR FOR DIR INT AFFAIRS: K WASHBURN
INTERIOR FOR FWS: TOM RILEY
INTERIOR PASS USGS FOR INTERNATIONAL: J WEAVER
JUSTICE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES: JWEBB
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL: CAM HILL-MACON
USDA FOR ARS/INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH: G FLANLEY
NSF FOR INTERNATIONAL: HAROLD STOLBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID TBIO ECON SOCI XR BR
SUBJECT: SOUTH AMERICA ESTH NEWS, NUMBER 82

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1. The following is the eighty-second in a series of newsletters,
published by the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub, covering
environment, science and technology, and health news in South
America. The information below was gathered from news sources from
across the region, and the views expressed do not necessarily
reflect those of the Hub office or our constituent posts.
Addressees who would like to receive a user-friendly email version
of this newsletter should contact Larissa Stoner at
stonerla@state.gov. The e-mail version also contains a calendar of
upcoming ESTH events in the region.

2. Table of Contents

Agriculture
--(3)Crops Responsible for Deforestation in Brazil

Water Issues
--(4)Brazil: Flood Insurance Measured
--(5)Colombia Gets Serious About Desertification

Forests
--(6)Brazil: New Trees to Reclaim Amazon Lands
--(7)Long-Delayed Native Forest Bill Is Back On Track in Chile

Wildlife
--(8)Guyana: NGO Accessing Wai Wai Land for Biodiversity Protection
--(9)NGO and Bus Company Team Up Against Wildlife Trafficking
--(10)Uruguay: The Return of the Aguara-Guazu Wolf

Protected Areas
--(11)First Aerial Spraying In Park Roils Colombia

Science & Technology
--(12)New Body to Boost Science for Development in South
--(13)Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry

Waste Management & Pollution
--(14)Brazil: Aluminum Can Recycling Record Remains Firm
--(15)Venezuela: Volunteers Clean Up 300 Beaches
--(16)Argentina: Scavengers Export Scrap
--(17)Chile: Indians Fight Garbage Dumps
--(18)Will Santiago's Air Goals go Up in Smoke?

Climate Change
--(19)Bolivian Glaciers Receding Rapidly
--(20)Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Greenhouse Gas Law
--(21)USD 3 Billion Pledged To Fight Climate Change
--(22)Brazil: Pesky El Nino Returns

Energy
--(23)Peru Liquefied Natural Gas: Progress and Challenges
--(24)Chile Promotes Energy Investment to North American Electric
Companies
--(25)Biofuel Boom Sparks Environmental Fears
--(26)Argentina to Add Reactors in Energy-Supply Push


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General
--(27)Brazil Greens See Tensions If President Lula Wins Second Term
--(28)Peru: Fossils Reveal Ancient Biodiversity
--(29)Canada Faces Pressure to Promote Sustainable Mining in Latin
America
--(30)Crude-oil Spill in Ecuador's Amazon Termed Intentional
--(31)Colombia: Dredging to Prevent Floods

-----------
Agriculture
-----------

3. Crops Responsible for Deforestation in Brazil

SEPT. 05, 2006 - The Brazilian Amazon is increasingly being cleared
to grow crops rather than for grazing cattle, making the process
even more harmful to the environment, say researchers. Over the
course of a three-year study led by Ruth DeFries of the University
of Maryland in the United States, clearing for cropland accounted
for nearly one fifth of deforestation in one state of the Brazilian
Amazon. The results were published by Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences. Using deforestation maps, field surveys and
satellite data to follow what happened to large pieces of land
cleared of rainforest in the state of Mato Grosso, the team found
that an area over one third the size of Jordan - about 36,000 square
kilometers - was cleared between 2001 and 2004 for large-scale
mechanized agriculture. Their findings define a "new paradigm of
forest loss in Amazonia", although cattle pasture still remains the
dominant land use, say the researchers.

Source - SciDev

------------
Water Issues
------------

4. Brazil: Flood Insurance Measured

SAO PAULO, Sep 25 - Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo
have developed a method to estimate insurance costs for urban
flooding, saying claims could eat up as much as 12 percent of the
gross domestic product. The new calculation technique combines data
on rains, water flow and economic analyses of water basins to
estimate the impact of these phenomena and optimize the management
of resources invested in insurance. "We are not out to compete with
U.S. and European methodologies; we just want to establish excellent
human resources in Brazil and the Americas, to adequately address
the needs of society," Eduardo Mario Mendiondo, the study's
coordinator, told Tierramerica. The methodology has already been
tested in an experimental urban watershed, and is currently being
studied in similar basins in Sao Paulo and the northeast region of
Brazil.

Source - Tierramerica

5. Colombia Gets Serious About Desertification

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SEPT. 2006 - The Colombian municipalities of Alpujarra and Dolores
are slowly turning into desert. Rainwater-when it comes-races
through crevices down the foothills of the eastern Andean range,
lost to human use. Temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35
degrees Celsius) bake a hard-crusted earth stripped of its tropical
dry forests years ago by slash-and-burn agriculture. Conditions for
many of the 5,000 peasant farmers of the two municipalities, which
are located in the central department of Tolima, are so dire that
crop cultivation is impossible. Impoverished, they subsist instead
on livestock in a bleak landscape of cactus and thorn forest. When
Colombia's government decided last year to develop pilot projects to
address desertification, one of them was earmarked for Alpujarra and
Dolores. Dozens of families in the area have received training and
resources to practice agro-forestry, silvopastoral production and
reservoir construction. The hope is that the pilot project, which
ends in November, will prompt more extensive efforts in the coming
years, says Consuelo Carvajal, coordinator of the project for
Cortolima, Tolima Department's environmental authority.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

-------
Forests
-------

6. Brazil: New Trees to Reclaim Amazon Lands

SEPT. 27, 2006 - A Brazilian state intends to make cattle ranchers
reforest land which they have cleared for grazing. The government
of Acre in the Amazon has established a nursery growing seedlings of
species such as mahogany which they will issue to ranchers.
Ranchers may be made to reforest up to 30 percent of their land.
The government sees this as a vital component of its long-term aim
to develop sustainable forestry as a key income generator for the
state. Until a decade ago, private landowners were allowed to
deforest 50 percent of their land. Now legislation has amended the
figure to 80 percent; but many ranchers have not replanted at all.

Source - BBC

7. Long-Delayed Native Forest Bill Is Back On Track in Chile

SEPT. 2006 - The Chilean Agriculture Ministry has reached agreement
on a native-forest conservation bill with the timber lobby,
environmental groups and other forestland stakeholders. The
administration of new Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has
re-introduced the legislation, called the Native Forest Recovery and
Forest Development Law, in Congress amid signs the measure will win
passage this year. The bill reflects core ideas on which the
various stakeholders could agree. Among these is that Chile must
encourage-through subsidies and other means-sustainable
native-forest management among small- and medium-sized landowners.
Controversial issues that have derailed previous iterations of the
native-forest bill were sidelined from the talks and will be taken

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up in separate bills. These include the replacement of native
forest with tree plantations, making an independent park service and
the use of legal loopholes to log certain tree species that have
been declared national monuments.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

--------
Wildlife
--------

8. Guyana: NGO Accessing Wai Wai Land for Biodiversity Protection

OCT. 03, 2006 - Conservation International will lead a scientific
expedition into unexplored areas in southern Guyana beginning Oct.
03 to accesses the value of the area for biodiversity protection.
For a month, the team headed by Dr Piotr Naskrecki, and including
Smithsonian Institute scientists and three residents of the Wai Wai
community, which owns the land, will set up camp in the area and
closely follow the species living there.

Source - Stabroek News

9. Uruguay: The Return of the Aguara-Guazu Wolf

SEPT. 18, 2006 - The reappearance in Uruguay of an "aguara-guazu",
or maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the first one sighted here in
16 years, could help finance a study of this species. The animal,
which is more closely related to foxes than to wolves, was killed by
hunters in the eastern department of Cerro Largo, and taken in
mid-September to the Museum of Natural History and Anthropology in
Montevideo, where it was being prepared for study. Museum director
Arturo Toscano told Tierramerica that efforts are being made,
alongside the Ministry of Agriculture, to obtain financing for
research, which would include a search for more maned wolves in
Cerro Largo. In Uruguay, the last aguara-guazu, which can weigh 40
kilograms and inhabits several South American countries, was seen in
1990 in the western department of Rio Negro.

Source - Tierramerica

10. NGO and Bus Company Team Up Against Wildlife Trafficking

AUG. 03, 2006 - Brazilian NGO RENCTAS and Bus Company Itapemirim
have launched the second phase of an educational campaign to stop
illegal wildlife trafficking, which will last until the end of 2006.
Using the slogan "Wildlife Trafficking: don't fall into this trap",
the campaign hopes to reach the population in general as well as
Itapemirim's 16,000 employees. Several posters will be hung near
Itapemirim ticket booths and will be published in a monthly magazine
produced by the bus company - 300,000 copies a month. The magazine
will also carry games such as puzzles and memory games, which were
designed to reach the children as well.

Source - RENCTAS

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---------------
Protected Areas
---------------

11. First Aerial Spraying In Park Roils Colombia

SEPT. 2006 - After a guerrilla land mine last month killed six
laborers working to manually uproot coca plants in Sierra de la
Macarena National Park, Colombian and U.S. spray planes swept over
the park, destroying 4,400 acres (1,800 has) of coca in five days
and infuriating environmentalists and media commentators alike. The
spraying operation, which used a potent herbicide mixture sold by
Monsanto, made Colombia the first nation in the world to aerially
spray drug crops in a national park. Critics say such spraying
threatens the park system's immense biodiversity. The decision to
begin chemically spraying the 1.56-million-acre (630,000-ha)
Macarena National Park came after an eight-month attempt at manual
eradication that destroyed nearly 75 percent of the coca in the
Macarena, but left 35 eradicators, police and army soldiers dead
from guerrilla land mines. Juan Lozano, Colombia's minister of
environment, housing and territorial development, has tried to calm
the uproar over the Macarena spraying by telling the press that the
decision to spray in the Macarena was "exceptional." He has
indicated that there are no plans to spray in other parks.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

--------------------
Science & Technology
--------------------

12. New Body to Boost Science for Development in South

SEPT. 27, 2006 - The foreign ministers of 131 developing nations
have backed plans to transform a network of science ministries,
academies and research councils into a new body to promote
science-based development. The Consortium on Science, Technology
and Innovation for the South (COSTIS) will replace the existing
Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (TWNSO). The
decision was made 22 September in New York City, United States, at
the annual meeting of foreign ministers of the 131 member states of
the so-called Group of 77 (G-77). The move is intended to put
science and technology closer to the heart of economic-development
policy. COSTIS will focus on organizing South-South forums on
developing appropriate and affordable technologies in sectors such
as energy and water. COSTIS will seek funding from governments in
the North and South, as well as international donors and
foundations. It is set to be fully operational by January 2007.

Source - SciDev

13. Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry

SEPT. 23, 2006 - A green chemical revolution is underway that

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promises to be environmentally sustainable and profitable while
reducing the risks of industrial disasters like the Bhopal, India
gas leak in 1984. "Green chemistry" has already turned maize into
biodegradable plastics, developed non-toxic solvents and
dramatically reduced the toxic byproducts from the manufacture of
popular pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen. It is vital to the
production of Toyota's new electric cars, made in part from kenaf,
an annual grass plant. "Green chemistry is about developing new
products and processes which actually fit the 'triple' bottom line
of environmental, economic and social sustainability," said Robin
Rogers, a researcher and director of the University of Alabama's
Center for Green Manufacturing.

Source - Tierramerica

----------------------------
Waste Management & Pollution
----------------------------

14. Brazil: Aluminum Can Recycling Record Remains Firm

Sept. 25, 2006 - In 2005 Brazil recycled 96.2 percent of its used
aluminum cans, making it the world's leader in this activity for the
fifth year in a row, according to the Brazilian Aluminum Association
(ABAL). Japan followed with 91.7 percent, while the United States
and the European Union trailed with can recycling levels of only 52
percent, said ABAL during an international seminar in the
southeastern state of Sao Paulo. "Organizing the market at all
points of the chain in the early 1990s was key to Brazil's success,"
ABAL's Recycling Coordinator, Jose Roberto Giosa, told Tierramerica.
The collection system also has a large social impact, providing a
source of income for 520,000 informal collectors and street garbage
vendors.

Source - Tierramerica

15. Venezuela: Volunteers Clean Up 300 Beaches

SEPT. 18, 2006 - Some 20,000 volunteers took part in a beach
clean-up Sep. 16 in Venezuela, targeting 300 areas along the
Caribbean, as well as around lakes and riverbanks, coinciding with
the end of school vacation. "We also classify and inventory the
garbage we collect. The experiences of recent years indicate that
the waste associated with tourism, especially plastics, are the main
pollutants of our beaches," Maury Marcano, spokesman for the
initiative, organized by the Foundations for the Defense of Nature,
told Tierramerica ahead of the clean-up. Last year, thousands of
volunteers on 179 beaches collected 755,000 kilos of waste in 13,400
garbage bags. The annual beach clean-up is financed by big
Venezuelan private companies.

Source - Tierramerica

16. Argentina: Scavengers Export Scrap

SEPT. 25 - By the end of the September, the Argentine ecological

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cooperative Reciclando Suenos (Recycling Dreams) will have sent
another two shipments to Spain, each containing 25,000 kilograms of
scrap iron. The cooperative, made up of southern zone "cartoneros"
(informal scrap collectors) and some of Buenos Aires's poorest
residents, is a pioneer in exporting scrap for recycling. In April
the co-op sent its first shipment of 25 tons of scrap to the
Interrecicla steel mill, which manufactures tools in the Spanish
city Bilbao. The collectors receive approximately 130 dollars per
exported ton, on which they have to pay a tax of almost 40 percent
to the Argentine government.

Source - Tierramerica

17. Chile: Indians Fight Garbage Dumps

SEPT. 18 - A dozen representatives of indigenous Mapuche communities
in Chile's Araucania region charged that they are the target of
racism and discrimination by the authorities who set up 19 garbage
dumps less than one kilometer from their homes. The Mapuche Indians
say the foul odors and the smoke from burning garbage have caused
respiratory problems. Furthermore, the dumps have attracted packs
of dogs, and led to the appearance of larvae in livestock,
particularly hogs, that causes trichinosis in humans. The Mapuche
leaders gathered in the city of Temuco to draw up strategies for
getting rid of the dumps. Alejandra Parra, of the non-governmental
Action Network for Environmental Rights, told Tierramerica that a
prompt solution is unlikely, which is why they will file a complaint
of racism before an international organization, yet to be
determined.

Source - Tierramerica

18. Will Santiago's Air Goals go Up in Smoke?

SEPT. 2006 - Six years ago, Chile's National Environment Commission
(Conama) hailed the progress being made against air pollution in the
Chilean capital. Thanks to the implementation of stricter standards
in key areas including vehicle fuels and industrial emissions,
air-quality indicators had improved markedly. Conama stated
confidently that by 2005, Santiago would no longer have to face
extraordinary steps such as mandatory bad-air-day curbs on
automobile circulation, industrial activity and school sports. The
forecast, however, proved wrong. Last year, metropolitan Santiago's
regional government was forced to declare two "environmental
pre-emergency" days on account of elevated airborne particulate
concentrations. And on Aug. 2, authorities announced this year's
third pre-emergency, after concentrations of PM10-particulates of up
to 10 microns in diameter-had reached "critical" levels. As part of
the pre-emergency, officials prohibited more than 130,000 cars from
circulating on Santiago roads, designated seven major city avenues
for the exclusive use of public transport, temporarily banned
emissions at 552 industrial sites, prohibited the use of residential
chimneys and redoubled efforts to scrub particulate matter from
Santiago streets. And throughout the city, schools halted
physical-education classes and canceled sporting events. Such
experiences underscore an unfortunate fact: despite its early

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success in improving air quality, Santiago has made little anti-smog
headway since 2000. The World Health Organization still ranks it as
one of the globe's 10 most polluted cities. When asked why this is
so, air-quality experts, government officials and environmentalists
cite many factors. Among the most important, they say, are timid
and poorly funded air-quality efforts in recent years, the region's
continued growth and the dictates of geography.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

--------------
Climate Change
--------------

19. Bolivian Glaciers Receding Rapidly

OCT. 03, 2006 - Bolivian glaciers are receding so rapidly, say
scientists, that most could disappear within the next ten to 15
years, with alarming implications for potable water and
hydroelectric energy supplies. Scientists tie the last two decades'
acceleration in glacial melt to the greater intensity and frequency
of El Nino events, which in turn are linked to gradually rising
global temperatures. GOB officials are aware of the glaciers'
recession but appear ill-equipped to cope with what may be serious
consequences.

Source - LA PAZ 00002674

20. Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Greenhouse Gas Law

SEPT. 27, 2006 - In a move backers hope will change the U.S.
approach to the problem of global warming, California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger signed a law aimed at reducing the state's greenhouse
gas emissions. "We have begun a bold new era of environmental
protection here in California that will change the course of
history," the Republican governor said. The measure passed by the
Democratic- led Legislature last month caps the state's man-made
greenhouse gas emissions. The most populous U.S. state seeks to
reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of about 25
percent.

Source - Washington Post

21. USD 3 Billion Pledged To Fight Climate Change

SEPT. 22, 2006 - British entrepreneur Richard Branson has committed
what could amount to USD 3 billion to research into renewable
energies in possibly the largest-ever personal donation to fight
climate change. He made the announcement 21 September at the
Clinton Global Initiative, a three-day meeting of philanthropists in
New York, United States. Branson will invest all the personal gains
he makes from his airline and train companies over the next 10 years
into finding non-polluting sources of energy, an amount which he
estimated could come to USD 3 billion. Earlier this month, on 10
September, Branson's company Virgin announced the launch of a new

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subsidiary company, Virgin Fuels, which will invest up to USD 400
million in renewable energy initiatives over the next three years.

Source - SciDev

22. Brazil: Pesky El Nino Returns

SEPT. 18, 2006 - The cyclical climate phenomenon known as El Nino
will return at the end of the year, but will lack the strong
intensity if had in 1997-1998, when it triggered droughts and
devastating fires in Brazil, say meteorologists. It will tend to be
"moderate" in comparison because the surface waters of the
equatorial Pacific Ocean will be two to four degrees warmer than
average, Epedito Gomes Rebello, a researcher at the National
Institute of Meteorology, told Tierramerica. This is predictable
because the water currents at a depth of 100 meters are already four
degrees warmer, he said. As a result of the ocean's interaction
with the atmosphere there will be drought in the northern Amazon and
in northeast Brazil while there will be heavier rains in the south.


Source - Tierramerica

------
Energy
------

23. Peru Liquefied Natural Gas: Progress and Challenges

SEPT. 29, 2006 - The Peru Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project is
proceeding apace, bringing gas from the Camisea gas fields through
to pipeline to LNG plant and marine terminal on Peru's coastline. A
2010 export target should deliver USD 200 million in GOP revenues
and community projects per year, with annual exports of four million
metric tons of liquefied natural gas, potentially worth a billion
dollars. President Alan Garcia has publicly expressed full support
for this project, in which U.S. company Hunt Oil is the operator
with a 50 percent share. There is little Peruvian opposition to the
LNG project but continuing complaints about Camisea. At a September
27 Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) public forum, civil society
and GOP speakers noted the economic importance of Peru LNG. There
were no concerns raised about Paracas Bay. NGO critics focused on
rupture risks of the Camisea liquids pipeline (which will also carry
Peru LNG liquids) and social impacts on the indigenous residents
near the gas fields and pipeline. Project implementers said they
are addressing these concerns by working to ensure the pipeline's
integrity and improve their work with indigenous communities.

Source - LIMA 00003896

24. Chile Promotes Energy Investment to North American Electric
Companies

Sept. 22, 2006 - With pressures mounting to address Chile's looming
energy crisis, both the government and Chilean energy distributors
have set their sights on North American electric companies. Chile's

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first energy "road show" began Sept. 20 in New York City, where
President Michelle Bachelet and Energy and Mining Minister Karen
Poniachik met with Wall Street analysts and industry leaders from
Chile and the United States. The seminar, called "Business and
Investment Opportunities in Chile's Energy Sector," aimed to show
North American electric companies that "Chile is a great place to
invest in," said Bachelet. The bait is no less than USD 10 billion
in energy deals to supply the country with 5,000 MW, a plan
authorized by the national Energy Security Policy (PSE) and destined
to make the country energy independent by 2008.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

25. Biofuel Boom Sparks Environmental Fears

SEPT. 18, 2006 - The use of biofuels is on the rise in Latin America
and is feeding dreams of abundance in countries like Argentina and
Colombia. But the experience of Brazil, a pioneer in this
alternative energy, raises questions about their potential negative
environmental consequences. With ethanol and biodiesel as a
springboard, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva aims to
turn his country into an energy superpower -- in contrast to the
1970s when the Brazilian economy was thrashed by its dependence on
oil imports and its dramatic price hikes. But environmentalists
warn that although biofuels reduce emissions of greenhouse gases
(which lead to global climate change), they could also trigger a
massive expansion of the biofuel crops, pushing the agricultural
frontier deeper into the forests, destroying habitat and
biodiversity.

Source - Tierramerica

26. Argentina to Add Reactors in Energy-Supply Push

SEPT. 2006 - Argentina's oil and natural gas supplies are not
keeping pace with the country's 8 percent annual growth, leading
some experts here to predict a national energy crisis next year or
the following. Worried about the prospect, the government has
launched a series of initiatives aimed at increasing power
generation-in the process creating a welter of environmental
tradeoffs. The most controversial such step was President Nestor
Kirchner's announcement in August of a USD 3.5 billion, eight-year
investment to boost Argentina's nuclear-power capacity. Kirchner
says the funds would be used to complete construction of the
country's long-delayed third atomic power station, begin feasibility
studies on a fourth nuclear plant and resume enriched-uranium
production, which was suspended two decades ago. The two atomic
power stations in operation-Atucha I and Embalse-have an installed
capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW). The third plant, Atucha II, would
bring the total nuclear-power capacity to 1,745 MW, the government
says. Many environmentalists oppose an expanded nuclear sector, but
their warnings have been all but drowned out amid widespread concern
about power shortages. [Meanwhile] some who might be assumed to
oppose nuclear power support Kirchner's plan.

Source - EcoAmericas (for complete article please contact Larissa

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Stoner)

-------
General
-------

27. Brazil Greens See Tensions If President Lula Wins Second Term

SEPT. 29, 2006 - With his leftist credentials and background as a
factory worker in polluted Sao Paulo, environmentalists had high
hopes of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva when he took
office in 2003. But the results are mixed. Plans for controversial
hydroelectric damns in the Amazon to feed power-hungry cities and
continued deforestation contrast with the creation of
state-protected reserves now covering 10 percent of the rainforest.
A World Wildlife Fund study found Brazil could meet its electricity
needs through 2020 with renewable resources and conservation -- and
save 33 billion reais (USD 15 billion). "Brazil needs to stop
looking at the environment as a problem and start seeing it as a
solution," said Denise Hamu, secretary general of the World Wildlife
Fund in Brazil. "I have some good things to say, but it's mixed
with frustration. There's a lot of work to be done," said Ana
Cristina Barros, who heads the Nature Conservancy in Brazil.

Source - Washington Post

28. Peru: Fossils Reveal Ancient Biodiversity

SEPT. 23, 2006 - The discovery of an amber deposit formed in the
Peruvian Amazon during the Miocene era proves that the region's rich
biological diversity dates back some 16 million years. The insects
found fossilized in the amber -- wasps, weevils, flies, tiny mites
and even a spider caught in its own web -- belong to 13 different
families, compelling evidence of the region's rich biodiversity
during the middle Miocene. In contrast, today's average garden
hosts insects from a mere three families. This discovery disproves
the theory that the Amazon's biodiversity developed only after the
Miocene period, following the last ice age (approximately 10 million
years ago). The discovery also suggests that biological evolution
in what is now modern-day South America occurred separately from
similar processes in North America, given that during the middle
Miocene the current subcontinent was an isolated land mass. The
Central American isthmus has bridged the two hemispheres only for
the last three million years.

Source - Tierramerica

29. Canada Faces Pressure to Promote Sustainable Mining in Latin
America

SEPT. 23, 2006 - Civil society activists want the Canadian
government to impose mandatory human rights and environmental
standards on Canadian mining and oil companies operating in Latin
America and other developing regions. In the past decade Canada has
been the world's biggest investor in the hunt for valuable metals
and minerals in Latin America, Jamie Kneen of Mining Watch told

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Tierramerica. Canadian miners are responsible for environmental
contamination and human rights violations all over Latin America, he
says. Canada has nearly 60 percent of the mining and exploration
companies in the world; they generate more than 40 billion dollars
annually, representing about four percent of Canada's GDP.

Source - Tierramerica

30. Crude-oil Spill in Ecuador's Amazon Termed Intentional

SEPT. 2006 - A 500-barrel oil spill last month in the Cuyabeno
Wildlife Reserve, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is being
described by authorities as the result of a deliberate attack on a
well operated by Petroecuador, the state oil company. The Aug. 18
spill occurred following the rupture of a secondary pipeline that
routes crude from the Petroecuador well, called Cuyabeno 8, to a
production station. Officials say the break was not an accident,
and they are conducting an investigation to determine who is
responsible for it. Under Ecuador law, government-sanctioned mining
and oil-development activity can be conducted in protected areas.
The Cuyabeno reserve, created in 1979, covers more than 1.5 million
acres (600,000 has) in the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana. One
of 27 protected areas in Ecuador, it is home to 493 bird species,
165 mammalian species, 91 varieties of reptile, 96 amphibian species
and 475 types of fish. Human inhabitants include members of the
Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Quichua, Shuar and Achuar indigenous groups.
Late last month, Environment Ministry personnel inspected five of
the reserve's interconnected lakes and confirmed that the spilled
oil had reached all of them after entering the Cuyabeno Chico
River.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

31. Colombia: Dredging to Prevent Floods

AUG. 26, 2006 - Authorities from the town of Monteria, in the
northern Colombian department of Cordoba, will begin dredging and
rehabilitation work in September on La Caimanera channel. The
initiative is part of a 4.2 million-dollar project to mitigate the
effects of flooding from the Sinu River, which in 2005 left more
than 3,000 families homeless. The secretary of municipal
infrastructure, Juan Carlos Mendez, told Tierramerica that the last
legal steps are being carried out to begin work, which includes
reforestation of both banks of the channel. According to Carlos
Martinez, of the Farmers' Association of Cordoba, the efforts begun
in 2005 have produced immediate results.

Source - Tierramerica

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