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News articles on latin america
Mongabay.com news articles on latin america in blog format. Updated regularly.
(02/03/2009) Ten undescribed species of amphibians — including nine frog and one salamander — have been discovered in the mountains of Colombia, report scientists from Conservation International (CI). The "new" amphibians included spiky-skinned, orange-legged rain frog, three poison dart frogs and three glass frogs, named for their transparent skin. The amphibians were discovered during a recent Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in the Tacarcuna area of the Darien, near the border with Panama.
Beef drives 80% of Amazon deforestation
(01/29/2009) Nearly 80 percent of land deforested in the Amazon from 1996-2006 is now used for cattle pasture, according to new maps released today in a report by Greenpeace at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil. The report, Amazon Cattle Footprint: Mato Grosso: State of Destruction, confirms that cattle ranching is the primary driver of deforestation in Earth's largest rainforest: the Brazilian Amazon.
Photo: Indigenous leaders form giant human banner to protest Amazon destruction
(01/28/2009) Gathering at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, indigenous people from across Latin America today called upon world leaders to protect the Amazon rainforest which is under continued threat from loggers, ranchers, and agroindustrial companies. Nearly 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 sq miles) of Amazon rainforest were destroyed last year while another 25,000 square kilometers were damaged or degraded. More than 1000 forum participants formed a human banner that spelled out the message "SALVE A AMAZONIA" ("Save the Amazon" in Portuguese) around a silhouette of an indigenous warrior taking aim with a bow and arrow.
Camera trap photos reveal bushmeat hunting threat to jaguars in Ecuador
(01/27/2009) Jaguars are the largest cats of the Americas and third largest cats in the world. The primary rainforest in the Amazon region of Ecuador is among their last remaining strongholds. Jaguars are listed as “vulnerable” in Ecuador, and Santiago Espinosa, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) fellow, PhD candidate from University of Florida/Gainesville, and WWF fellow, wants to know just how many jaguars are left in his home country. He is developing strategies to protect them by determining their numbers and the factors that threaten them through a unique method of non-invasive photography.
Saving leatherback turtles in South America’s smallest country, Suriname: An interview with Liz McHuron
(01/27/2009) After a year studying marine biology at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Liz McHuron headed off to the little-known nation of Suriname to monitor leatherback sea turtles. Her responsibilities included implementing a conservation strategy for a particular beach, moving leatherback nests in danger of flooding, and educating volunteer workers on the biology, behavior, and conservation efforts of the world's largest, and most unique, marine turtle. I visited McHuron during her time at the beach of Galibi in Suriname; she proved to be the sort of scientist who refused to be deterred: breathtaking humidity or downpours, fer-de-lances on the beach or jaguars, Liz was always on the move, always working to aid the critically-endangered leatherbacks while studying them with the thoroughness inherit in a born scientist.
ADM takes step towards more sustainable soy production in the Amazon
(01/27/2009) Agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) has partnered with Brazilian nonprofit Aliança Da Terra to promote better environmental stewardship among soybean producers operating in the Amazon, reports the Chicago Tribune.
How to make forest fragments more hospitable to wildlife
(01/27/2009) While deforestation garners more attention from environmentalists, fragmentation of forest habitats is of significant concern to ecologists. As forest is fragmented into islands by logging, roads, agriculture, and other disturbances, edge effects alter the structure, microclimate and species composition of the forest patches, usually reducing the overall number of species. Forest specialists are most likely to suffer, losing out to "weedier" generalists and species that can tolerate forest "edge" conditions. A new study, conducted in the Brazilian Amazon, takes a detailed look at the types of birds that are likely to persist, and even thrive, in forest fragments.
Wildlife trade creating “empty forest syndrome” across the globe
(01/19/2009) For many endangered species it is not the lack of suitable habitat that has imperiled them, but hunting. In a talk at a Smithsonian Symposium on tropical forests, Elizabeth Bennett of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) outlined the perils for many species of the booming and illegal wildlife trade. She described pristine forests, which although providing perfect habitat for species, stood empty and quiet, drained by hunting for bushmeat, traditional medicine, the pet trade, and trophies.
Rancher accused of ordering murder of American nun is arrested in Brazil
(12/30/2008) The rancher suspected of ordering the killing of an American nun in the Brazilian Amazon has been arrested and detained at his home in the state of Pará, reports the Associated Press (AP).
20 years ago the Amazon lost its strongest advocate
(12/22/2008) Twenty years ago ago today, Chico Mendes, an Amazon rubber tapper, was shot and killed in front of his family at his home. He was 44. His assassination in Xapuri, a remote town in the Brazilian state of Acre, would serve as a catalyst that led to the birth of the movement to protect the Amazon rainforest from loggers, ranchers, and developers. But the movement has stalled. Some would even say it has failed: since 1988 more than 348,000 square kilometers (134,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been leveled.
Amazon rainforest damage surges 67% in 2008
(12/20/2008) The area of rainforest in the process of being deforested — razed but not yet cleared — surged in the Brazilian Amazon during 2008, according to new figures released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The announcement comes shortly after the Brazilian government reported a 4 percent increase in forest clearing for the year. Using an advanced satellite system that tracks changes in vegetation cover INPE found that 24,932 square kilometers of Amazon forest was damaged between August 2007 and July 2008, an increase of 10,017 square kilometers -- 67 percent -- over the prior year. The figure is in addition to the 11,968 square kilometers of forest that were completely cleared, indicating that at least 36,900 square kilometers of forest were damaged or destroyed during the year. The sum does not include areas that may have been selectively logged for commercial timber.
Computer hackers are helping illegal loggers destroy the Amazon rainforest
(12/12/2008) Computer hackers are helping illegal loggers destroy the Amazon rainforest by breaking into the Brazilian government's timber tracking system and altering the records so as to increase logging allocations, reports Greenpeace.
Lula pledges big cuts in Amazon deforestation -- after he leaves office
(12/12/2008) Last week Brazil unveiled plans to cut deforestation substantially from a 1996-2005 baseline of 19,533 square kilometers per year. The announcement met a mixed response from conservationists. Some applauded the decision to set hard targets for reducing deforestation, others say the targets were too low and that the country should aim for zero net deforestation by 2015. Nevertheless as more details have emerged, it becomes clear that the onus for reining in deforestation falls on Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's successor.
Agricultural firms cut incentives for Amazon deforestation
(12/02/2008) As grain prices plummet and concerns over cash mount, agricultural giants are cutting loans to Brazilian farmers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Tighter farm credit may be contributing to a recent slowing in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, where agriculture is an increasingly important driver of forest clearing.
Niche-based distribution modeling may help improve effectiveness of protected areas
(12/01/2008) Niche-based distribution modeling may help researchers evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas, especially in regions lacking comprehensive databases of species distribution, reports a new analysis published in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science.
Tropical dry forest fragments important to conserving reptile biodiversity in Colombia
(12/01/2008) An important task in tropical conservation is to understand which species are particularly vulnerable to extinction, and identify the characteristics that put them at risk. Because habitat loss and fragmentation are at the root of the global extinction crisis, an extensive collection of literature has developed around profiling species assemblages in fragmented landscapes. It is also clear that species may respond differently to fragmentation, but many species experience direct or indirect negative effects, sometimes resulting in local extirpation in habitat patches.
Lack of information may slow conservation response to amphibian crisis
(12/01/2008) The Neotropics harbor between 30-50% of the world's reptiles and amphibians, but dramatic declines in both groups have been observed over recent decades. While a number of factors have been cited, many of the causes of reptile and amphibian declines are still poorly understood. The situation is paralleled by a lack of information of the natural history, ecology, and behavior of many species.
The number of endangered amphibians in Peru may be underestimated
(12/01/2008) The number of threatened amphibian species in Peru may be significantly underestimated, increasing the risk that conservation decisions will fail to account for their needs, report researchers writing in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science.
Manatees become conservation symbol for communities in Mexico
(12/01/2008) Local conservation efforts are helping protect endangered manatees in Chiapas, Mexico, report researchers writing in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science.
Brazil to cut Amazon deforestation by 70% to fight global warming
(12/01/2008) Brazil will aim to cut its deforestation rate by 70 percent by 2018 under its plan to reduce emissions from forest clearing, Environment Minister Carlos Minc.
Amazon deforestation rises slightly to 4,600 square miles in 2008
(11/28/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased slightly for the August 2007-July 2008 period, reports the country's National Institute of Space Research (INPE). The rise is the first since 2004 when 27,379 square kilometers were destroyed.
Captive breeding of monster Amazon fish could feed people and save it from depletion
(11/26/2008) A new technique for sexing a giant Amazon fish may help create a sustainable source of protein in South America, report researchers writing in Fish Physiology and Biochemistry.
Brazil moves to protect and restore endangered Atlantic rainforest
(11/22/2008) Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed a decree to protect and restore critically endangered rainforest along the country's Atlantic coast, reports the Associated Press.
Brazil to use body-heat sensing technology to find uncontacted Amazon tribes
(11/19/2008) Brazil will use a plane equipped with body-heat sensing technology to locate tribes in the Amazon rainforest, reports the Associated Press.
Last uncontacted tribe in Paraguay rapidly losing homeland
(11/19/2008) An indigenous rights' group has sounded the alarm over a new threat to an uncontacted tribe in Paraguay.
Illegal drug use destroys rainforests
(11/18/2008) Colombian officials have re-iterated their claim that cocaine use in rich countries is driving deforestation in Colombia, reports The Guardian.
Brazil OKs $4 billion dam in the Amazon rainforest
(11/13/2008) Brazil has given final go-ahead on a controversial dam on the Madeira river in the Amazon rainforest provided environmental conditions are met, reports the Associated Press.
Brazilian rancher claims he owns land American nun was killed defending in the Amazon
(11/12/2008) The rancher suspected or orchestrating the killing of an American nun in the Brazilian Amazon now claims he owns the land she died trying to defend, reports the Associated Press (AP).
Brazil triples endangered species list
(11/05/2008) Brazil has nearly tripled the number of species on its endangered list due to development, overfishing, pollution, wildlife trafficking and deforestation, reports the Associated Press.
Rainforest fungus generates biodiesel, may drive energy of the future
(11/04/2008) A fungus recently discovered in the Patagonian rainforest has shocked biologists and environmentalists: the fungus produces gas almost identical to diesel. In a paper announcing the discovery in Microbiology, scientists state that they believe the fungus, called Gliocladium roseum, could become an incredibly efficient green energy source.
Brazil charges 81 with illegal Amazon deforestation
(11/02/2008) Brazil will file charges against 81 people accused of being the biggest destroyers of the Amazon rainforest, reports the Associated Press.
Mystery cat discovered in Ecuador is likely a pampas cat according to expert
(10/28/2008) Two years ago a mysterious wild cat was spotted in Peru. The cat was photographed recently by Aldo Sornoza of Fundacion Jocotoco (FJ) in Ecuador's Jorupe Reserve, close to the Peruvian border.
Peru gets $25M in debt relief to fund rainforest conservation
(10/22/2008) The U.S. government has agreed to forgive $25 million of Peru's debt in exchange for protecting the country's tropical forests, according to a statement released Monday by the State Department.
Peru's uncontacted Amazon tribes under attack
(10/22/2008) Illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon is driving uncontacted tribes into Brazil where they are in conflict over food and resources with other uncontacted groups, according to a Reuters interview with a leading expert on indigenous tribes.
7 new species of frog discovered in Ecuador
(10/22/2008) Seven previously unknown species of frog discovered over the past two years by Ecuadorian researchers are already under threat from habitat loss, reports a newsletter from the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group.
Rainforest biodiversity results from habitat specialization rather than chance
(10/22/2008) The rich diversity of trees in tropical forests may be "the result of subtle strategies that allow each species to occupy its own ecological niche" rather than random dispersal, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Colombian community leader assassinated by agroindustry-backed vigilantes
(10/16/2008) A community leader who opposed paramilitary-based seizure and occupation of land for industrial oil palm plantations and cattle ranches in northwest Colombia has been assassinated, reports the Center for International Policy's Colombia Program and the World Rainforest Movement.
Breakthrough may enable reforestation using mahogany
(10/16/2008) Brazilian researchers are closer to developing a way to establish large-scale mahogany plantations, reports the ITTO in its bi-monthly update. Scientists at the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (UFRA) have found that planting a matrix of mahogany with cedar reduces the incidence of the Hypsipyla grandella caterpillar, a chief pest of mahogany that has doomed previous attempts to reforest with the valuable hardwood species.
UK government: rainforests are weapon against global warming
(10/15/2008) Protecting tropical forests will simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, support poverty reduction and help preserve biodiversity and other forest services, says a new report commissioned by the British government. The report — dubbed the "Eliasch Review" after the lead author, Johan Eliasch, a multimillionaire Swede who runs a sports equipment company and owns 162,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon — takes a comprehensive look at the role forests can play in mitigating climate change. It concludes: "Urgent action to tackle the loss of global forests needs to be a central part of any future international deal on climate change"
Brazil to have high resolution imagery for 86% of the Amazon by year end
(10/15/2008) Brazil will have high resolution imagery for 86 percent of its Amazon territory by the end of the year, according to Reuters. The images will help the country protect the Amazon rainforest and prosecute alleged environmental crimes, including illegal logging and agricultural expansion.
Exelon signs rainforest conservation deal to help reduce emissions
(10/13/2008) Environmental crime is generating $10 billion a year in revenue for gangsters and criminal syndicates reports the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in a paper released today.
Paraguay extends zero deforestation law
(10/10/2008) Paraguay announced it will implement a policy to cut net carbon emissions from land use change to zero by 2020, reports WWF.
Argentina bans fishing, trawling in eco-rich area
(10/09/2008) The government of Argentina has banned commercial fishing along Burdwood Bank, an 1,800 square kilometer (694 square mile) submerged island off its southern coast, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Rainforest biodiversity at risk from global warming
(10/09/2008) Climbing temperatures may doom many tropical species to extinction if they are unable to migrate to higher elevations or cooler latitudes, report researchers writing in Science.
Ecuador's plan to protect rainforest from oil drilling looks doomed
(10/09/2008) Ecuador's proposal to protect one of the world's most biodiverse rainforests from oil development has failed to secure any funding ahead at its December deadline, reports the Guardian Unlimited.
Ecuador's Choco under siege, but hope remains
(10/09/2008) The Chocó, a region of humid tropical forest in western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador, is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots with high levels of endemic species but large-scale habitat loss. The situation is particularly dire in Ecuador where more than 90 percent of the Chocó has been cleared for agriculture. But hope is not lost. A dedicated team of researchers is working with local communities to ensure that Chocó will be around for future generations.
Anti-NGO rhetoric in Brazil a response to environmental criticism says environment minister
(10/08/2008) Accusations against foreign environmental groups operating in the Brazilian Amazon are "exaggerated" to deflect criticism on high deforestation rates in the region said Brazil's environment minister at a summit in Brasilia.
Chevron loses attempt to reduce payment in suit by Amazon rainforest natives
(10/08/2008) Chevron lost its attempt to force arbitration in a case in which it could be liable for billions of dollars to pay for cleaning up damages to the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador.
Slowing global economy will reduce Amazon deforestation
(10/08/2008) The global financial crisis will likely slow forest clearing in the Amazon rainforest, said Brazil's environment minister. Falling commodity prices combined with tighter credit and increased aversion to risk will undermine the economics of activities — including logging and agricultural expansion — that are key drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Forest clearing in the region has shown an increasingly tight correlation to beef and soy prices in recent years. Both products are produced on cleared rainforest lands.
Forest corridors key to maintaining biodiversity in fragmented landscape
(10/07/2008) Alta Floresta, a region in the Brazilian Amazon state of Mato Grosso, has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates on the planet since the mid-1980s due to the influx of colonists and ranchers who converted nearly half the region's forest land to pasture and agricultural plots. The change has had significant ecological impacts, including reducing the availability of water, increasing the incidence of forest fires, fragmenting remaining forest cover, and diminishing the quality of habitat for wildlife.
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