Conservation news

Latam Eco Review: Turtles at risk, jungle fracking, and a mafia land grab

The most popular stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, last week followed what is causing an 80 percent decline in some sea turtle populations in Peru, mafias and deforestation in Colombia, and fracking in Bolivia.

Banner image: The hook in the photo above can cause internal damage that is fatal for sea turtles. Image courtesy of WWF Peru.

A national plan to conserve sea turtles in Peru

The waters off Peru are home to five of the world’s seven sea turtle species. Regulations that protect them and ban their capture and trade have been on the country’s books since 1995, but bycatch, habitat degradation and illegal trade threaten their survival. The populations of the two most iconic species have fallen 80 percent. Now a new national plan to conserve Sea Turtles is in the works, and is expected to mitigate the risks faced by the creatures over the next 10 years.

Peru is working on a national plan to conservation sea turtles. Image courtesy of WWF Peru.

65 ways to steal land in Colombia

In seven of Colombia’s 32 administrative departments, criminals and public officials use both legal and illicit means to force small landowners to sell their land cheaply. Researchers have identified more than 65 forms of judicial displacement that have dispossessed Colombians of a combined 180,000 square kilometers (69,500 square miles) of land, an area greater than the size of Uruguay.

Much of the land has been turned into large plantations. Image by the Solidarity Development Corporation/CDS.

Chilean mining and port project ignored scientific evidence of true impact

Chilean officials ignored scientific evidence about the full environmental impact of a $2.5 billion iron-ore port project. Marine scientists say the Dominga project’s marine area of influence has been underestimated. Located just 35 km (21.7 miles) to the north of the project’s port is one of the world’s most biodiverse marine zones protected by the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, along with the Chañaral and Choro island marine reserves. Up to 560 marine species could be registered in this area alone.

Humboldt penguins in Humboldt Penguin National Reserve in Chile’s Coquimbo region. Image courtesy of Eduardo Sorenson/©Oceana.

Fracking comes to Bolivia

Bolvia’s state oil company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), and Canada’s CanCambria Energy Corp. have signed an agreement to explore the potential of nonconventional gas in the humid forests of the country’s south. Of 36 indigenous peoples officially recognized by the state, 34 live in these regions. Energy Minister Luis Sánchez announced that exploration will expand beyond the southern sub-Andes region into the northern Amazon blocks in Madidi and Amazonia, among others.

Operators are exploring the potential of “nonconventional” gas extraction in Bolivia’s northwestern Amazon region. Image by José Luis Quintana/ABI/YPFB

Indigenous peoples of Bolivia and Peru search for a governance model

Legal recognition of their territories might not be a panacea to solve all their problems, but for some indigenous peoples in Bolivia and Peru, it is the path to a balance of power. In Bolivia, a model of indigenous autonomy takes in elements of the peoples’ cosmology and cultural practices. Those in Peru don’t have the constitutional leverage to seek autonomy. Instead they seek to recover and protect their rights through international mechanisms, such as ILO Convention 169 and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

With different measures of progress and problems, the indigenous peoples of Peru and Bolivia are seeking to recover their own forms of governance. Once they do, they believe they will be able to exercise their basic rights and dramatically reduce conflicts. Image by Flor Ruíz.

Mafias take over Colombia’s forests

“There is every reason to think there is a system that is deliberately deforesting as a business, and people who are investing large capital, whom one can presume are narcotraffickers or of suspicious character,” says Brigitte Baptiste, director of the Humboldt Institute in Colombia. According to Baptiste, there is a large, structured mafia at work in the Amazonian region today that is not only composed of armed groups but also “corrupt accomplices” within the state.

Land seizure and deforestation are the most common initial actions of criminal groups dedicated to illicit cultivation and illegal mining. Image courtesy of the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS.)

Read these stories in their entirety in Spanish at Mongabay-Latam.