Specialists Call for Political Action on Conservation in Latin America


With the goal of analyzing the state of green spaces in the region, the II Latin American Congress on National Parks and Other Protected areas is taking place in Bariloche, a popular touristic city about 1600 kilometers south from Buenos Aires. Some of the themes being discussed so far are sustainable development of tourism, conservation vs. development and economic resources, but most specially the issue about national politics around protected spaces. According to the Program of United Nations for the Environment (Pnuma), there have been some improvements with a growth in the amount of protected areas, but it is not enough: there are 300 million hectares of protected spaces, but every year around seven million hectares of woods are taken down, La Nacion newspaper informs. As a mater of fact, at this moment there is a huge deforestation going on in the north of Argentina in hands of producers who want to use the soil for soy cultivation (which sells big in the international market). Therefore, many delegates accused local governments of lacking protective policies and working against the well being of the region: "Latin America is growing at a rate of 5 to 6% annually, but by means of a model that does not respond to local needs, but to the global demand, and which has a strong impact in the geography of the region", Robert Hofstede, director of the South American office of the World Union for Nature (UICN) told Inter Press Service news agency. "None of the regional governments is conscious about basing development in the sustainable management of natural resources", added Hofstede."Even though there has been a political change in the region, which gave place in several countries to governments that are critical of the market reforms of the 90s, such change doesn't seem to have had an impact in the environmental agenda", said Eduardo Gudynas, from the Latin American Center for Social Ecology. "How come the progressivist governments aren't active in maters of the environment?", he asked according to the Inter Press Service agency.

Another good line was mentioned by Gabriel Lopez, director of global strategies of UICN, who said that "without a new model of development with more equality and in which the environment is respected, the protected areas will be obsolete islands in a few years".

In this line, most opinions were around the request for immediate political action. "The environmental movement has been doing a great effort for the last 30 years, but it is not enough to take care of this challenge or a globalized economy", said to Inter Press Service Carlos Castaño Uribe, consultant for the FAO and an analyst of the actual situation of the protected areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. The main problem, he added, is that public policies of nations, provinces and cities are too unarticulated, offer different incentives and even present contradictions among them. This is specially true in Argentina, when from the national government conservation is stimulated but cannot interfere in provincial legislations that allow deforestation, for example.

Organized by the UICN, the United Nations Organization for Agriculture and Food (FAO), the Pnuma and the National Parks Administration of Argentina, the congress lasts until next Saturday and has more than 1700 assistants. ::La Nacion article ::Inter Press Service Article

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