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13 August. Earth Economics finally received full funding to finish their alternative economic study of the Intag area!!!!! The study aims to present solid economic information on the value that all of Intag’s ecosystem services are providing which would be destroyed by mining development, such as climate regulation, carbon sequestration and water purification (it would also including the impacts on the area’s ecotourism and small hydro electric generation potentials). A larger study will also include other aspects, such as the real wealth (beyond just economic) generated by Intag’s sustainable businesses. (See http://www.eartheconomics.org/Page99.aspx )
We feel this study is extremely important because it will present verifiable facts to Ecuadorians, but more importantly, to policy makers, that we fell will prove that large-scale mining in areas like Intag is economically not viable. Right now the economic leg is the only one the government is using to promote large-scale mining projects. The study should be applicable to other parts of Ecuador, and the world, sharing similar environmental conditions.
Mining temporarily halted at Barcelona. Activities at the Barcelona limestone mine has been suspended by the government for seven days while they review (once again) the mine’s documentation and permits. This was the most tangible result after a five hour meeting between government, company and community representatives this past Thursday in Otavalo. Also participating were two members of the National Assembly’s Biodiversity Commission, who are supporting the community’s call for the mine to close.
JUNIN MINE? We have not heard anything concretely about the government’s plan to start up the Junin mining project again with its own company, except that it’s confirmed that mining development here in Intag is within the government’s “national development plan”, which was carried out without any genuine consultation with local governments and communities.
Support for high school groups. Thank you to all who supported our work to help hundreds of high-schoolers get to high school DECOIN gave funds for 15 groups of high-school groups to help pay the outrageous transportation costs for them to get to school (most in the back of trucks). Yes, 15 groups; ranging from 13 kids to 60- and attending all three “normal” high schools in the are (Peñaherrera, García Moreno and Apuela). We were unaware that there were so many groups, so the support was very limited. In most cases, we could only pay for less than 25% of the costs (which could run to several thousand per school year per group). The following is a shot of one of the groups heading home after classes.
The lack of school transport continues to be a huge problem for Intag. In a related note that puts it more in perspective, there are hundreds of kids participating in distance high-school education, mainly because they cannot afford to pay for transportation. As previously reported, we helped the 55 member group in Chalguayacu Bajo by helping them buy a piece of land, and construct a building so they can meet on Saturdays to study (THE BUILDING IS FINISHED!!)… But there are other groups that have nowhere to meet. One of these, the student group that meets in Apuela, was recently kicked out of the Apuela high-school where they were holding classes. They asked us for support to buy a piece of land in Apuela to, at least, dream of having their own school-house. I think we could buy an appropriate piece of land in Apuela for about $ 5,000.00, and build a decent building for another $ 12-15,000.00. Just buying the land will make the building much more likely to happen. By the way, the overwhelming majority of these kids do not have computers to practice on and do their homework with, so that you could donate to cover this urgent need.
Call for donations. There is still a urgent need for donations to help Barcelona, and two other communities pay for legal expertise to defend community members facing criminal charges, plus find a legal way to stop the opening of another limestone mine (El Rosal), and a new company from exploring in the Paraiso area.
Community Reserves. During the past 12 or so years, we have been able to help communities create over 40 watershed and forest reserves, which are protecting over five thousand hectares of cloud forests and endangered wildlife, and the source of drinking water for thousands of Intag residents (see previous blogs for more details). Unfortunately, while we are presently acquiring some land for the Cuellaje Township, DECOIN is unable to meet the pressing demand from other local governments and communities that want to enlarge, or create new community watershed and forest reserves.
Support for Intag’s work of building a sustainable economic model is still essential. It is no less essential that it was 15 or more years ago when the struggle to stop Mitsubishi from building a mine began.
Without positive examples of development, what do we have left?
If you are interested in learning about our sustainable agricultural work, check out previous blogs on our site.