Around the Region

Impact report on Nicaraguan canal issued, but not to public

After just a year and a half of work, executives with the British consulting firm Environmental Resource Management (ERM) recently presented the Nicaraguan government with a 14-volume Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for what would be the world’s largest civil engineering project, the interoceanic Nicaraguan Canal. The private May 31 presentation included only officials from ERM, the Nicaraguan government and the project’s investment firm, Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (HKND). Three months have passed since the presentation, and the report still has not been made public pending completion of a government review. ERM did, however, give four chapters of the assessment to an independent panel of academics in order to obtain an outside opinion. That review, organized by Florida International University, cast doubt...

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Tree species can’t move ahead of climate change

Tropical tree species might face major extinctions because they appear unable to move upland quickly enough to escape the higher temperatures caused by climate change, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, published July 15 by biologists from two Colombian universities and Florida International University in the United States, examines the occurrence and abundance of more than 1,800 tree species over a decade in Colombia’s Andean department of Antioquia. The trees were located over an altitudinal range of 3,000 meters. The study finds that on average, tree species are shifting their mean elevation upwards by about 2-3 meters annually in response to local warming rates. In most cases, however, those changes seem to have been...

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Bolivia’s Morales OKs highway through park

More than three years after stopping construction of a highway through a national park and indigenous reserve, Bolivian President Evo Morales has renewed calls to build the road, infuriating environmentalists and indigenous groups whose opposition halted the project in April 2012. “This road, my friends, will be built,” said Morales at a June 4 rally marking the anniversary of the founding of a municipality in the department of Cochabamba. Construction of the 190-mile (306-km) highway from Villa Tunari in the department of Cochabamba to the Amazonian town of San Ignacio de Moxos in the department of Beni has long been a priority for the Morales government. Authorities view the project as a means of uniting the commercial heart of the nation in the...

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