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Latam Eco Review: Seeing red over pink dolphins and flamingos

The most popular stories published recently by our Spanish-language news service, Mongabay Latam, featured endangered pink Amazon river dolphins, the world’s rarest flamingos, palm oil plantations in Nicaragua, impunity in Peru, and mansions in Colombia.

Mercury and accidental capture endanger Amazon river dolphins

The Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) was recently categorized as endangered in the IUCN Red List. Threats to this pink dolphin include accidental capture, killing for bait, river dams, and pollution from chemicals and heavy metals, especially mercury. Researchers say another river dolphin, the tucuxi, or gray dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis) could be next on the list.

Studies have determined that Amazon river dolphin populations are in drastic decline. Image by Fernando Trujillo/Fundacion Omacha.

Pattern of impunity in timber extraction from Peru’s Amazon

An analysis of 10 years of official figures reveals a pattern of illegality and complicity in the “laundering” of timber from the Peruvian Amazon. The report documents a variety of false licenses used to illegally extract timber worth $112 million from the three most important producing regions: Ucayali, Loreto and Madre de Dios. More than 60 percent of the timber inspected by the forest oversight agency, OSINFOR, in Loreto and Ucayali is illegally sourced from areas whose owners or representatives were charged with serious forest law violations. This estimate reflects 40 percent of what of is actually extracted.

Agency staff watch over logged trees in Peruvian rainforest. Image courtesy of OSINFOR.

Cornered by oil palms, Nicaraguan farmers move into Indio Maíz reserve

“You see communities dying because the company buys the land and displaces the people. This also results in a lot of conservation damage because, normally, the people who sell, head to the reserve,” says a local environmentalist about the impact of large-scale oil palm cultivation in southeastern Nicaragua. A joint investigation by Mongabay Latam and Nicaragua’s Onda Local shows vast expansion by the company Palmares El Castillo is causing an exodus into the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve protected area, one of the most important tropical forests in Central America.

Palm oil fruit. It is estimated the company Palmares de El Castillo has grown twice the size authorized by Nicaragua’s environmental authority in 2006. Image by Julio López/Onda Local.

Indigenous community vows to fight lithium firm in Chile’s Atacama Salt Flats

An indigenous community will appeal the government’s decision to drop sanctions against a lithium company for damages to Chile’s Atacama Salt Flats near the Peruvian border. The government dropped charges that Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) had modified its environmental contingency plan to allow for greater resource extraction than permitted. As a result — say indigenous and environmental groups and government agencies — canals and rivers in this fragile, Ramsar-recognized wetland area dried up. The salt flats are the world’s most important reproductive center for flamingos, notably the vulnerable Andean (Phoenicoparrus andinus), and the near threatened Chilean (Phoenicopterus chilensis) and James’s (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) flamingos.

Atacama Salt Flats. Image by Michelle Carrere.

Luxury mansions invade Bogota’s protected areas

The long struggle to defend the Eastern Bogota Protected Forest Reserve from urban expansion got serious after a local environmental authority ordered the demolition of two mansions. The Cundinamarca local authority suspended the construction of “luxury invasions” and ordered the demolition of two mansions affecting this protected area that connects the Chingaza and Sumapaz national parks. Urban building now occupies 4.26 percent of the reserve, and mining another 0.77 percent.

The local environmental authority has ordered the demolition of this luxury house built in a protected area. Image by Cundinamarca Regional Autonomous Corporation (CAR).

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