Around the Region

Brazilian deforestation data show land-clearing increase

Brazil’s Amazon region lost 24% more rainforest in the year ending July 31, 2015 than was cleared in the preceding 12 months, according to figures released by the Brazilian government last month. The causes of the quickening deforestation pace included increased soy and beef prices and reduction in environmental-enforcement personnel, government and private-sector specialists say. Deforestation consumed 6,207 square kilometers (2,397 square miles) of Amazon rainforest in the measured period—the most recent for which definitive data are available—according to the new figures, issued in September by the government’s National Space Research Institute (INPE). That area, roughly equivalent in size to the U.S. state of Delaware, compares to the 5,012 square kilometers (1,935 sq. miles) of Amazon rainforest lost in the 12...

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Buenos Aires moves to curb use of plastic bags

Beginning on Jan. 1, Buenos Aires supermarkets and food stores will be prohibited from giving customers plastic bags. The mayor’s environmental-protection department approved the measure on Aug. 30, after a third of the trash collected in a cleanup of three underground streams that run in artificial channels beneath the city was found to consist of discarded plastic bags. “These streams flow into the River Plate, and the plastic bags also end up there, where they’re ingested by aquatic animals,” Eduardo Macchiavelli, the city’s environment minister, told EcoAméricas this month. “The majority of these bags are used one time before being thrown away, and they put biodiversity at risk. They take some 150 years to decompose.” To soften the impact of the ban on plastic...

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Call for cancellation of Nicaragua canal project

A leading international human rights group called this month for cancellation of Nicaragua’s controversial project to build a cross-isthmus canal, citing numerous human rights and environmental concerns. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its Nicaraguan counterpart, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), charge the project would displace as many as 120,000 peasants without providing for proper relocation and compensation. For a report they issued this month, the groups interviewed 131 people who lived along the proposed canal route. All of the interviewees described intimidation by the state to give up their land. The FIDH is not the first organization to condemn the planned US$50 billion canal and its little-known Chinese billionaire backer, Wang Jing. Since legislation granting the concession...

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