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Latam Eco Review: Millennial trees and Pacific coral larvae

Top recent stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, include a multi-country series on illegal logging, traveling coral larvae, and a treaty to protect environmental defenders.

Peru’s millennial trees could disappear in 10 years

Peru’s Shihuahuaco trees (Dipteryx micrantha) take hundreds of years to grow but could be lost in a decade. Listed as critically endangered, some 310,000 were felled in 15 years; researchers predict they could disappear from forests in two regions in as little as 10 years.

According to a report shared with Mongabay Latam, Peru’s Shihauhauco trees are projected to disappear in 10 years from extraction areas in Loreto and San Martín. Image courtesy of Antonio Fernandini.

Fifteen countries commit to protect environmental defenders

Fifteen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed an agreement to protect environmental defenders. The Escazú Agreement facilitates access to information, public participation and environmental justice in a region where four environmental defenders are killed every week, according to a 2017 report from Global Witness. Chile and Colombia did not sign the agreement.

Protesters demonstrate against conflict-prone extractive activities in Chile, which did not sign the agreement. Image courtesy of Alerta Isla Riesco.

Falsified documents allow logging of Bolivia’s protected areas

Bolivia’s illegal timber trade is supported by documents that inflate the number of trees in forest concessions to hide trees extracted from banned zones. Protected areas, including those in Madidi, Pilón Lajas, Tipnis, Aguaragüe and Tariquía are particular targets.

Officials intercept illegal timber near the Yapacani-San Carlos highway in Bolivia. Image by ABT.

Illegal timber accounts for a tenth of Colombia’s deforestation

A multi-country investigation coordinated by Mongabay Latam and Peru’s Ojo Publico reported that the illegal timber trade is responsible for 10 percent of Colombia’s deforestation. At the same time, the country imports three times more wood than it uses and exports.

The Amazon’s destruction is intertwined with a lucrative deforestation business that could amount to $750 million a year and impacts forests in the Amazon and Darién regions. Image by Danilo Cangucu, Revista Semana

Without limits, Orinoco palm oil industry threatens mammals

If Orinoco oil palm cultivation surpasses 75 percent of the total area, mammal populations will suffer drastic and accelerated declines, a new study warns. A “sustainable” level of cultivation would need to reserve 55 percent of the land for natural ecosystems. Palm cultivation in the country’s eastern grassland plains has already exceeded these limits.

Oil palm fields in Colombia. Image by Álvaro Mejía Jaramillo

Can coral larvae save Pacific reefs?

Coral larvae make an extraordinary journey on ocean currents to colonize distant reefs in the central and eastern tropical Pacific. New research shows a connective loop of the larvae that could bolster long-term reef survival in the eastern region.

Coral reefs of the tropical Pacific. Image by David Paz Garcia.

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

Banner image: A coral reef of the tropical Pacific. Image by David Paz Garcia.

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