Around the Region

Expansion of Bolivian reserve boosts blue-throated macaw

A few years ago, the blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis) was headed the way of extinct species like the dodo and the Colombian grebe. Trappers pursued the critically endangered, large blue and yellow parrot for the immense profits to be earned on the international pet market. Indigenous people hunted it to adorn their headdresses with feathers. And the rapid expansion of cattle ranching in the savannas of Bolivia’s Beni department, where the bird is endemic, destroyed nesting trees and the Motacu palms which serve as a principal source of food. By 2007, the estimated population of the bird numbered no more than 300 individuals and the species seemed destined to vanish into world history. That is why environmentalists celebrated on Dec. 30, when Asociación Armonía...

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Brazil reacts to rise in Amazon land clearing

Prompted by a recent spike in the Amazon deforestation rate, Brazil’s Environment Ministry last month signed information-sharing agreements with all nine Amazon states, and vowed to widen the scope of an ongoing government crackdown on illegal land clearing. The ministry action follows the release in November of figures from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showing that in the 12-month period ending in July 2013, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon consumed an estimated 2,256 square miles (5,843 square kilometers). That was 28% more than was lost in the previous 12-month period, and the first spike in deforestation since the year ending July 2008. (See “Deforestation up in Brazil after 4-year decline,”—EcoAmericas, Nov. ’13). In Mato Grosso state, a center...

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Brazilian state holds nation’s first successful solar auction

The government of Brazil’s Pernambuco state last month held the country’s first successful solar-energy auction, awarding concessions that will boost Brazilian installed solar energy-generating capacity to 158 megawatts from its current 35 megawatts. Four foreign and two Brazilian developers on Dec. 27 sold 20-year supply contracts for future power from six planned solar plants to energy traders for an average price of R$228.63 (US$95) per megawatt hour (MWh). The state government had set a ceiling price of R$250 (US$104) per MWh. Energy traders will sell the resulting power to bulk users in Pernambuco such as cement and paper companies. The Pernambuco plants will help reshape a solar sector thus far dominated by standalone residential and business projects. Of...

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