November 10, 2010

Green Court Proposed in Ecuador

Filed under: Judges and Prosecutors, marine, South America — Tags: — inece @ 2:41 pm

From Sea Shepard:
Satellite Image of the Galápagos Islands

In Quito, on October 26, 2010, a hearing was held at the Judiciary Council of Ecuador, to justify the need to create the first specialized judiciary on rights to nature in Ecuador and the world.

The hearing was part of a process led by institutions and conservation organizations based in the Galapagos, which calls for transformation of environmental justice in this national protected area and world natural heritage, by means of judicial specialization.

Galapagos requires a specialized judiciary to ensure access to justice according to the Ecuadorian constitutional provisions on the protection of natural heritage and the rights of nature.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to recognize nature as a subject of rights. The Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador recognizes the rights of nature to be respected and restored. In 2009, the Organic Code of the Judicial Function was created, which specifically provides for the creation of special judiciaries to address claims on violation of the rights of nature. The Law authorizes its establishment by the Consejo de la Judicatura, the country’s Judicial Council.

For more information, see A Major Step Towards the Creation of the First Judiciary on the Rights of Nature in the World.

November 4, 2010

INTERPOL Operation Targets Illegal Trade in Endangered Reptiles

Sea Turtle, Photo credit Yannick Beadoin

INTERPOL reports that

A worldwide operation co-ordinated by INTERPOL and involving 51 countries across all five continents against the illegal trade in reptiles and amphibians has resulted in arrests worldwide and the seizure of thousands of animals as well as of products worth more than 25 million Euros.

Including national wildlife enforcement authorities, police, customs and specialized units from participating countries, Operation RAMP (September – October) focused particularly on illegal activities relating to the trade and possession of endangered reptiles such as turtles and snakes which included Boa constrictors. The operation resulted in thousands of searches and inspections being conducted, and saw hundreds of suspects being investigated or charged as part of an on-going series of investigations. The goods seized included leather products, and illicit firearms and drugs were also uncovered.

During the two month-long operation, which led to investigations into individuals and companies as well as inspections of premises such as seaports and wholesalers, INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme unit acted as a key operational communications and intelligence centre, facilitating the exchange of information between the world police body’s member countries participating in the operation.

For the full report, see

October 4, 2010

Environmental Compliance Inspections Handbook: A Regional Model from Argentina

Filed under: Compliance Inspections, Compliance Training, South America — Tags: — inece @ 2:47 pm

The Cuenca Mantanza Riachuelo: Manual Para Inspectores provides practical guidance for environmental inspectors in the area of the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin in Argentina.

The six chapters of the Handbook are organized into four distinct parts. The first deals with general aspects of the environmental inspection and is closely related to USEPA’s Conducting Environmental Compliance Inspections: Inspectors Field Manual. The second part describes the Matanza Riachuelo area, particularly its territorial, geopolitical, social, and economic aspects to provide context for the inspector. The third part covers the legal framework — both in terms of the environmental law for each of the jurisdictions (national level, Province of Buenos Aires and City of Buenos Aires) that make up the basin and in terms of the key legal provisions for environmental inspections. The final part discusses technical aspects of environmental inspections, such as liquid effluent, air emissions and waste, focusing on current field procedures used in the Matanza Riachuelo Watershed.

The new manual is available (in Spanish) at


Los seis capítulos de la Cuenca Mantanza Riachuelo: Manual Para Inspectores se organizan en cuatro partes bien diferenciadas. La primera trata sobre aspectos generales de la inspección ambiental y ha tenido como principal fuente el Manual de Inspecciones de Cumplimiento Ambiental, edición Centroamericana y República Dominicana de US EPA (disponible en español). La segunda corresponde a una descripción de la Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo, particularmente de sus aspectos territoriales, geográficos, sociales y económicos, de manera de situar al inspector en el marco territorial donde desenvuelve su acción. Allí, se expone el caso Mendoza y la normas vigentes en la ACUMAR, tanto de carácter institucional como operativo desde el punto de vista de la inspección. La tercera parte presenta, por un lado, la normativa especifi ca sobre la materia en cada una de las jurisdicciones (Nación, Provincia de Buenos Aires y Ciudad de Buenos Aires) que conforman la Cuenca, por otro lado, se presenta aquella que resulta esencial par el desarrollo de la actividad de un inspector ACUMAR. Ambas de conocimiento fundamental para la tarea. Finalmente, la cuarta parte, incluye la descripción de los aspectos técnicos de carácter general de una inspección ambiental en cuanto a efluentes líquidos, gaseosos y residuos, haciendo foco en los procedimientos vigentes en el ámbito de la Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo.

El nuevo manual está disponible en español en

July 28, 2010

Using Enforcement Response to Reduce Deforestation Rates in Brazil

Treehugger posits that credit is due to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency, for the  observed declining rates of deforestation in Brazil.

Between 2000 and 2008, the Amazon rainforest lost an average of 18,786 km² annually; last year, that number was down to 7,464 km² last year — evidence of a shift in tactics. Ten years ago, says [IBAMA director Luciano] Evaristo, IBAMA was “looking blindly for deforestation,” with “no tools” to catch deforestation operations before it was too late. Even simple factors like cloud cover would make monitoring parts of the Amazon virtually impossible, and those cutting down the trees knew that.

In the past, IBAMA agents would essentially just drive around, trying to catch farmers and ranchers in the act. But even if a farmer or ranger was found to be illegally deforesting their land, the fines imposed on them were often contested in an endless legal battle. Amazingly, less than 1 percent of fines for deforesting have ever been paid.

After 27,772 km² of forest was deforested in 2004, the highest rate ever recorded, it became clear that these old enforcement methods really weren’t effective.

Since then, advances in technology and better enforcement methods have changed the way IBAMA operates. A recently launched satellite, developed with the help of the Chinese, allows the enforcement agency to peer through clouds, greatly enhancing their monitoring ability. Every 15 days, IBAMA receives new satellite imagery showing the latest spots where deforestation is taking place, allowing officers to close down such operations much more quickly than they could before.

Those caught illegally deforesting their land, usually farmers and ranchers making room for cattle or crops, can now expect a harder hit to their pocketbooks. Instead of only imposing fines, now enforcement agents seek to “decapitalize the crime,” says Evaristo. Deforesting cattle ranchers can now expect to have their livestock seized, while farmers’ crops will be forced to rot in the ground. Those caught with illegal timber operations, too, may be squeezed out of business; IBAMA posts the names of those landowners on their Web site for the world to see.

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