South America

Silhouette of cannabis leaf

Brazil’s Supreme Court decriminalizes possession of marijuana for personal use

The Supreme Court’s ruling has long been sought by activists and legal scholars in a country where the prison population has become the third largest in the world. Critics of current legislation say users caught with even small amounts of drugs are regularly convicted on trafficking charges and locked up in overcrowded jails, where they are forced to join prison gangs.

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Peru fog oasis

Peru grants conservation status to 16,000-acre desert oasis site

Peru has granted formal conservation status to Lomas y Tillandsiales de Amara y Ullujaya, a unique fog oasis ecosystem on the arid Peruvian coastline. The state-owned land, which spans 15,936 acres in the Ica region of Southwest Peru and hosts hundreds of rare and threatened native species, will be protected for future research and exploration for at least three decades.

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Rainforest scene

Landmark ruling in Suriname grants protections to local and Indigenous communities

A court in Suriname approved an injunction filed on behalf of twelve Indigenous and maroon groups concerned about losing approximately 1,322,013 acres of rainforest to agricultural development. The court said the government doesn’t have the right to grant land without free, prior and informed consent, a process in which developers meet with residents to explain how projects would impact daily life.

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School of fish

Peru approves the creation of long-awaited marine protected area

After 10 years of negotiations, Peru’s Council of Ministers has approved the creation of the Grau Tropical Sea National Reserve. To Peruvians, it is a much-awaited marine protected area, as it’s one of the most biodiverse stretches along the country’s coastline. The reserve covers over 285,000 acres of sea off the departments of Piura and Tumbes in northern Peru. The IUCN ranked the area among the 70 most important places in the world for marine biodiversity conservation.

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A person preparing for planting the plant

Campesinos plant nearly a million trees in deforestation hotspot in the Colombian Amazon

More than 700 campesinos from the municipality of Cartagena del Chairá have started restoring more than 11,000 acres of degraded rainforest in one of Colombia’s deforestation hotspots. In collaboration with researchers from SINCHI, the Amazonian Scientific Research Institute, and the Association of Community Action Boards, the families have recorded more than 600 plant and more than 100 animal species in the area.

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Vast salt flat

Chile to create network of protected salt flats

Currently, only around 8% of Chile’s salt flats are protected. The new network of protected salt flats will raise that to 25%. This also aligns with the 30×30 goal as outlined by the global Convention on Biological Diversity, which ensures that at least 30% of the planet’s ecosystems are protected by 2030. The protection plan is part of the broader National Lithium Strategy, which seeks to make Chile the world’s lead producer of lithium, a critical component of EV batteries.

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Whale tail

Sei whales reappear in Argentine waters after nearly 100 years

News from Argentina shows that the benefits of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling are still compounding, with sei whales returning to the South American nation’s coastal waters for the first time in nearly a decade. Overhunting during the 1920s and 1930s led these massive blue-grey giants to abandon their ancestral waters in Argentina.

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Young saplings

Microsoft signs another reforestation-based carbon removal megadeal

Microsoft and nature-based climate solutions startup re.green have announced one of the largest-ever carbon removal agreements, with Microsoft purchasing 3 million tons of carbon removal credits over a 15-year period, generated through re.green’s reforestation projects in Brazil. The deal marks the second large-scale Brazil reforestation-focused carbon removal agreement for Microsoft, following a 1.5 million ton offtake deal with Brazil-based Mombak in December 2023, forming part of the tech giant’s initiative to become carbon negative by 2030.

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