Venezuelan crisis ups pressure on protected areas


Scientists say settler incursions are threatening habitat including that of the endangered brown spider monkey. (Photo courtesy of Diana Duque)

When the Venezuelan government in the early 2000s began allowing organized communities to move onto idle land, supporters celebrated the measure for enabling landless people to engage in farming and for righting a history of elite landownership. But with thousands of settlers and illegal miners now occupying Venezuelan forest reserves and national parks, environmentalists are pushing back. They say that applying the land distribution logic to protected areas is decimating rivers and woodlands, as well as plant and animal life. The latest dispute revolves around settler occupation of the last 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of continuous primary forest in the 174,000-hectare (429,963-acre) Caparo Forest Reserve, located in the western plains of Barinas state near Venezuela’s border with Colombia. That forest, managed as a... [Log in to read more]

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