Sunday, June 1, 2014

Disaster-prone Central America shows it means business on climate legislation

Nelson Renteria at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: In El Salvador’s Chalatenango hills, hit hard by civil war in the 1980s between the army and Marxist insurgents, many trees were damaged or destroyed in the hail of bombs and bullets.

After the conflict ended in 1992, the inhabitants of Montañona, a small town 98 km north of San Salvador, began mobilising to restore the 21 hectares they owned, and to protect the surrounding forest landscape of more than 1,400 hectares.    

These days, however, the local vegetation has a new enemy: ranchers. Some are starting fires on hillsides to clear the land so they can grow grass there to feed cattle. Sometimes the fires burn out of control, affecting wooded parkland.

For that reason, Juan Calderon, a 50-year-old ex-guerilla who is now a forest ranger, walks every day into the pine woods to make sure no one is cutting down trees or lighting fires there. “This (conservation) project is effective - it is the best, because before many people were coming into the woods to fell trees, hunt or do whatever, but now it is not possible,” Calderon told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Montañona reserve is the biggest in the northern department of Chalatenango. Not only does it help keep the air clean and healthy, but the 70 water sources in its river basin supply at least 70,000 families in nearby urban areas....

Dawn at Cerro El Pital, highest point in El Salvador. Shot by ElmerGuevara, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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