Conservation News

'My worst nightmares are coming true': Europe's last primeval forest on 'brink of collapse'

Polish government is accused of pushing Białowieża forest ecosystem to point of no return with state-sanctioned logging in Unesco world heritage site

Scientists and environmental campaigners have accused the Polish government of bringing the ecosystem of the Białowieża forest in north-eastern Poland to the “brink of collapse”, one year after a revised forest management plan permitted the trebling of state logging activity and removed a ban on logging in old growth areas.

Large parts of the forest, which spans Poland’s eastern border with Belarus and contains some of Europe’s last remaining primeval woodland, are subject to natural processes not disturbed by direct human intervention.

Related: Polish law change unleashes 'massacre' of trees

Related: Last stand for Europe's remaining ancient forest as loggers prepare to move in

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¿Por qué la obsesión de Latinoamérica por las represas?

Son símbolos de orgullo nacional, pero dado el aumento en las protestas y los costos medioambientales ahora se cuestiona el futuro de las mega represas

Durante abril de 2014, las lluvias fueron monumentales. Para principios de mayo, los operadores de la represa de 219 MW Cachoeira Caldeirão, que estaba construyéndose en el remoto estado de Amapá en Brasil, sabían que los niveles del río Araguari se encontraban peligrosamente altos. Si no se retiraba algo de agua de inmediato, la represa entera podría colapsarse. No habría ningún peligro para la población porque toda la escorrentía sería absorbida por otras dos represas río abajo, pensaba la compañía de energía hidráulica.

Las comunicaciones fallaron y nadie advirtió al pequeño pueblo de Ferreira Gomes, situado en las orillas del Araguari a casi 50km de distancia.

Related: Si ríos y humanos comparten el mismo estatus legal, debemos respetar sus derechos

Related: Crece la inestabilidad en Latinoamérica por la falta del agua

Related: 'El Pantanal es herencia nacional’: protegiendo a los humedales más grandes el mundo

Related: Tierra parda y estéril: la sequía histórica de Bolivia – en imágenes

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Por que a América Latina tem tamanha obsessão por mega-hidrelétricas?

Frequentemente tida como motivo de orgulho nacional, a matriz hídrica da América Latina gera custos ambientais cada vez maiores e é alvo de protestos crescentes. Será que as mega-hidrelétricas da região estão com os dias contados?

Chovera torrencialmente no mês de abril de 2014. No início de maio, os responsáveis pela operação da hidrelétrica Cachoeira Caldeirão, no Amapá, que terá potencial para gerar 219 MW quando estiver concluída, sabiam que o nível do rio Araguari estava muito alto. Se não liberassem rapidamente parte do excesso de volume, a própria barragem seria posta em risco. Não haveria perigo para os moradores da região, uma vez que a vazão excedente seria absorvida por duas outras usinas instaladas rio abaixo, pensavam os operadores da hidrelétrica.

Acontece que, por uma falha de comunicação, ninguém alertou a pequena cidade de Ferreira Gomes, que fica às margens do Araguari, 50km rio abaixo de Cachoeira Caldeirão.

Related: ‘O Pantanal é patrimônio nacional’: protegendo a maior planície alagável do planeta

Related: Race to renewable: five developing countries ditching fossil fuels

Related: A government of death is plundering our ancient Munduruku lands. Help us stop it

Related: Belo Monte, Brazil: The tribes living in the shadow of a megadam

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Why is Latin America so obsessed with mega dams?

Protests against Latin America’s pursuit of hydropower are increasing as the environmental costs mount up. Is the end of the region’s mega dams in sight?

The rains had been monumental throughout April 2014. By early May, the operators of the 219 MW Cachoeira Caldeirão dam being built in Brazil’s remote Amapá state knew that levels on the Araguari river were dangerously high. If some water was not released fast, the whole thing might collapse. There would be no danger to people because any run-off would be absorbed by two other dams downstream, the hydropower company thought.

But communications failed and no one warned the small town of Ferreira Gomes, nestled on the banks of the Araguari nearly 50km away.

Related: Now rivers have the same legal status as people, we must uphold their rights

Related: 'The Pantanal is national heritage': protecting the world's largest wetlands

Related: A government of death is plundering our ancient Munduruku lands. Help us stop it

Related: Dams be damned, let the world's rivers flow again | Kate Horner

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The Great British Bee Count – in pictures

Up to 15,000 people took part in the 2016 Great British Bee Count, recording 383,759 bees, some of which are pictured here. This year’s annual count has begun and will run until 30 June 2017

  • Download the free app to monitor and learn about our endangered bee population and get tips for bee-friendly planting
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