ARGENTINA : Tourism Benefits
BUENOS AIRES - The nearly 50-percent
rise in tourism in Argentina in 2002 gave national
parks and protected areas a boost in admissions revenues,
allowing them to improve infrastructure and step up
The National Parks Administration
reports that the number of visitors set a record last
year. Income from park entry fees increased 18.5 percent
from January to December 2002.
Those funds, which in 2001
covered 50 percent of maintenance costs, last year
were responsible for 75 percent of the budget, permitting
the construction of lookout points, paths and buildings,
and paying for more first-aid sites and staff. Argentina
has 30 national parks.
PERU : Studying Mining's
LIMA - The regional government
of Pasco, in Peru's central sierra, has convened environmental
groups and representatives from government ministries
to set up a commission to study the impact of mining
operations on the environment and human health, and
to propose regulations.
Pasco is a prominent mining region
of the high plains, with little agriculture and a
livestock sector that reports damage from environmental
contamination caused by mining practices.
A giant open-pit mine divides
in two the city of Cerro de Pasco, the region's capital.
Two of its districts, Champamarca and Yanacancha,
are surrounded by enormous piles of mining waste that
has accumulated over decades.
The evaporation of precipitation
from the piles causes acid rain, while the water filtering
through the rubble carries ferrous oxide and acids
to the nearby San Juan and Mantaro rivers.
BOGOTA - The flow volume of Colombia's
main rivers is 25 to 30 percent below average, due
to the lack of rain in recent months, reports the
Institute of Meteorological Studies.
The effects are beginning to
be seen in the reservoirs in the northern areas, where
rationing programs have been set up in response.
The Urrá hydroelectric
plant is recording the lowest water levels in three
years and has had to buy electricity from other plants
to meet its distribution commitments.
The Urrá plant needs
the Sinú River to provide 350 cubic meters
of water per second, but is only receiving 45 to 50
cubic meters, says the company's president, Alfredo
MEXICO: Monarch Remains
MEXICO CITY - The Monarch butterfly
continues to be threatened by the illegal logging
of the forests that serve as its habitat part of the
year, warned writer and ecologist Homero Aridjis,
after reports indicated that the butterfly population
was showing signs of recovery.
In 2002, millions of monarchs
died as the result of an intense cold wave, in addition
to the progressive decrease in forest coverage.
But last month, the monarch population
reached similar numbers to those recorded in 1993
in Mexico, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature.
The Mexican government lacks
a clear and firm policy against logging, which leaves
the monarch at risk, said Aridjis, president of the
environmental Group of 100 and one of the leading
experts on this species in Mexico.
In the past three decades,
44 percent of the forested area where the monarch
wintered was lost. The butterfly migrates up to 5,000
km from Canada and northern United States.
MANAGUA - Nicaraguan authorities
began a pilot program in some of the country's central
areas to raise tilapia, an exotic fish of African
origins, but ecologists warn that its presence in
lakes and rivers could have harmful effects.
The fish was introduced in Latin
America due to its ability to adapt to tropical areas
and its rapid reproduction rate.
Salvador Montenegro, of the Aquatic
Resources Research Center, told Tierramérica
that the tilapia is "is like a small mole, but
cancerous. Introducing into the big lakes like the
Cocibolca poses a threat because it feeds on animal
remains, kitchen waste and animal manure. It produces
great quantities of excrement, polluting the water."
Local environmentalists recommend raising the fish
in separate ponds. The tilapia is already part of
the local diet and is even an export. In 2000, revenues
from international sales of the fish provided Nicaragua
207,000 dollars, but the next year the total fell
to 64,000 dollars.
GUATEMALA: Defining the
National Environmental Profile
GUATEMALA CITY - By the end of
this year Guatemala will have its first integrated
environmental profile, a compilation of information
on land use, forests, biodiversity, water and marine
resources, climate, solid waste, non-renewable resources
The initiative, proposed in September
2002 by a private university, aims to study "the
real economic impacts caused by environmental deterioration,
such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and the state of
the environment and its relation to poverty,"
Claudio Cabrera, head of the project, told Tierramérica.
The report will be updated
every two years by the Environmental Institute at
the private Rafael Landívar University. Dutch
institutions are providing 260,000 dollars for the
first 12 months of the project.
COSTA RICA: Reinforcing
SAN JOSE - The Costa Rican government
hopes that its Central American neighbors will take
advantage of the upcoming meeting of the region's
environment ministers, in Managua, Mar 10-14, to make
commitments to improve management of protected areas.
The meeting, the first in the
context of the Mesoamerican Congress of Protected
Areas, will evaluate the situation of the seven Central
American countries and four southern Mexican states.
The Mesoamerican region
holds 597 areas with different levels of protection
for preservation. They cover a total of 164,000 square
km, or 22.4 percent of the region's land area.