Around the Region

Trading system seen to aid forest conservation

A study published this month in the scientific journal PLOS ONE highlights the positive market potential of a trading system in which Brazilian landowners in violation of government land-clearing limits can legalize their property by buying credits from those who conserve more than the required minimum. The land clearing restrictions that guide the new trading system were set down in Brazil’s Forest Code, a 1965 law that was revised in 2012. The revised law retains a longstanding requirement that landowners keep a portion of their land uncut—80% in the Amazon, 35% in the north-central woodland savannah known as the Cerrado, which is on the periphery of the Amazon Basin, and 20% in the rest of the Cerrado and elsewhere. Landowners who fail...

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Costa Rican government plans to refile shrimp bill

Despite opposition from lawmakers and environmental groups, the Costa Rican government plans to reintroduce controversial legislation that would reverse a phaseout of shrimp trawling in the country’s waters. Government officials claim the bill is an effort to alleviate coastal poverty, which they say has worsened since the country’s Constitutional Court (Sala IV) banned shrimp trawling in 2013 on environmental grounds. “To develop fisheries we need to consider not only what impacts it has on the ecosystem, but also the serious situation with jobs,” says Gustavo Meneses, president of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca). “So when we developed criteria for sustainability we were sure to consider both environmental and socioeconomic sustainability.” When the government originally submitted the legislation, it stressed that 360 jobs are at...

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Brazil’s Belo Monte dam begins generating power

Having weathered dozens of legal challenges during its planning and five years of construction, Brazil’s enormous Belo Monte hydroelectric station this month began generating commercial power on a limited basis. When fully online, the controversial, US$12 billion power station in the eastern Amazon is slated to have 11,233 megawatts of generating capacity, third highest in the world behind only China’s 22,000-megawatt Three Gorges Dam and the binational 14,600-megawatt Itaipu Dam on Brazil’s border with Paraguay. Belo Monte’s start-up occurred on April 20, when one of the plant’s 18 turbines began generating 611 megawatts of power, says Aneel, Brazil’s energy-regulatory agency. An additional turbine is expected to go online every two months, with the dam reaching full capacity in 2019. Opponents...

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