Jun. 7th, 2011

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ENVIRONMENT DAY-ECUADOR :Nature's Rights Still Being Wronged

QUITO, Jun 3, 2011 (IPS) - Recognition of the rights of nature in Ecuador's 2008 constitution was widely applauded by environmentalists around the world. However, putting them into practice is still problematic due to the lack of legislation and an institutional framework.

It is true that in this country "enshrining the rights of nature has gone beyond philosophical discussion," and they have passed from being diffuse and vague to being objective and regulated, at least at the level of the constitution, said environmental lawyer René Bedón, dean of the law faculty at the Universidad de los Hemisferios.

"Furthermore, nature is beginning to file lawsuits," he told IPS, referring to the constitutional court sentence against the Provincial Council of Loja, a province on the border with Peru, 500 kilometres south of Quito.

On behalf of the rights of nature, and particularly of the Vilcabamba river, Richard Wheeler and Eleanor Geer Huddle, foreigners living in the area, asked for constitutional protection against damages caused by the widening of the Vilcabamba-Quinara highway, being carried out without an environmental permit.

The case, the first lawsuit in Ecuador's history on the rights of nature, was analysed at a seminar on "El derecho y las políticas ambientales más allá del papel" (Beyond the letter of the law and environmental policies), held Tuesday and Wednesday by the Ecuadorian Centre for Environmental Law (CEDA) to commemorate its 15th anniversary. MORE
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May 31 Tropical Forest Summit Opens


BRAZZAVILLE, May 31, 2011 (IPS) - Heads of state from the Amazon, Congo and Borneo-Mekong basins are meeting in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville: leaders hope to reach an accord on sound management of valuable rainforest ecoystems, but civil society actors believe the problems faced by local populations may be ignored.

The host of the meeting, the president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, said the summit constitutes a final "decisive step" before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. According to organisers, the Brazzaville summit will also allow the reinforcing of South-South cooperation; the Congolese environment minister, Henri Djombo, told reporters the objective was to ask all the countries involved to form a united bloc.

Worldwide worries

Ahead of the summit, forest policy in several countries came under the spotlight. In Brazil, the government is considering a controversial revision to its Forest Code, which if passed by the Senate, will expand the amount of forest that is threatened by deforestation. The same day that the lower house of Brazil's legislature approved the code, forest defendersJosé Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo, were shot to death by as-yet unknown assailants. The two had received death threats for their activism against illegal logging in the northern Amazon state of Par".
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