Around the Region

Presidents pledge funds for Amazon bioeconomy

The presidents of France and Brazil announced a four-year, one-billion-euro (US$1.08 billion) investment of public and private funding to develop the Amazon bioeconomy. The funding aims to spur sustainable economic development by turning natural rainforest assets such as fruits, nuts, fibers, saps and resins into value-added products ranging from foods to medicines. The initiative also aims to expand markets for such products in Amazon nations and beyond. The investment, announced March 26 in the eastern Amazon city of Belém by French President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, targets the Amazon in Brazil and in French Guiana, an overseas department of France. Macron visited French Guiana before starting a three-day visit to Brazil. The bioeconomy initiative will aid Brazil in its efforts to “reach zero deforestation by 2030, restore degraded ecosystems and revert the loss of biodiversity,” a Brazilian Foreign...

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Blanket used to prolong life of Venezuela’s last glacier

What’s left of Venezuela’s last glacier is being covered with plastic to prevent it from melting away. The government of President Nicolás Maduro launched the project in late February to save the two- to three-hectare (five- to seven-acre) remnant of the La Corona glacier, located at an elevation of 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) in the Venezuelan Andes just east of the city of Mérida. Scientists say that while La Corona has been shrinking gradually for thousands of years, the pace of its melting has picked up dramatically in recent decades due to climate change. Venezuelan officials say their project involves 26 people laying down 35 rolls of polypropylene material to prevent sunlight from striking the glacier directly. Though “glacier blankets” of this sort have been used elsewhere in the world for reasons ranging from ski-trail protection to water-resource conservation, Venezuelan officials say that in one respect...

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Heavy-metals remediation slow to get started in Peru

A Peruvian court ruled last December that heavy-metals pollution is so severe in the Andean city of Huancavelica and the nearby community of Sacsamarca that the government must consider both places contaminated, declare an environmental emergency and undertake remediation. Nearly three months since, however, the authorities involved—including the national ministries of Environment, Health, and Energy and Mines, as well as local and regional governments—have yet to announce cleanup plans or even declare an emergency. The Dec. 13 ruling by the Superior Court of Huancavelica capped more than a decade of scientific investigation and historical sleuthing in and around Huancavelica, site of the largest mercury mine in South America. The research eventually confirmed high concentrations of mercury, lead and arsenic in the two communities. Along the way, it prompted Nicholas Robins, a North Carolina State University history professor, to write a book entitled “Mercury, Mining and Empire: The...

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