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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] Imataca Rainforest Reserve placed on the back burner...(
Fecha:Jueves, 28 de Noviembre, 2002  09:58:01 (-0400)
Autor:Jorge Hinestroza <vitae3>

Imataca Rainforest Reserve
placed on the back burner...

Who knows what’s happening there now?

Editorial © by News Editor Patrick J. O'Donoghue :  Wednesday,  November 27, 2002 -- The World Resources Institute (WRI) has drawn attention to the Imataca Rainforest Reserve, which Venezuela environmentalists seem to have put on hold ... at least until President Hugo Chavez Frias has been removed from power.

Former Imataca ideologues, such as Leonardo Pizani and Tulio Alvarez are currently defending a slot on the National Electoral College (CNE) or filing lawsuits against Chavez Frias at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) and have seemingly put the Imataca on a backburner.

The 3.2 million-hectare reserve is located between Bolivar and Delta Amacuro States. The WRI says there are 12 timber concessions currently operating in the area ... and 300 mining concessions ... and contracts handed out before President Rafael Caldera’s controversial Decree 1850 in 1997.

“The approved zoning plan designates five management zones in the Imataca reserve for forest management, management of the flood plains, special investigation, protection and mixed management … the management zones appear to have been established primarily on the basis of existing concessions rather than specific ecological or social criteria.”

The report goes to state that the Imataca zoning plan defines only two protected zones covering less than 4% of the reserve, which are open for timber extraction and isolated from one another. The Institute highlights several incidents of legal vacuum in Decree 185O such as:

  • Lack of an indigenous community zone: The reserve overlaps with territories once occupied by Warao, Arawak, Karina, Pemon, and Akawaio indigenous communities
  • Lack of secure land tenure has created problems in other parts of the world for local communities faced with mining developments, such as Suriname
  • Lack of consideration for the environmental impact of migration to the region, such as indirect effects of permitting mining in the reserve, increase in migration and construction of settlements
  • Lack of a monitoring program for timber extraction or mining. There is no provision for monitoring the impact of extractive activities

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) has still not made a ruling since environmentalists and local indigenous communities introduced appeals in 1997 and Venezuela's print & broadcast media have relegated environmental issues to oblivion.