NEW HAMPSHIRE: Preserving our natural resources

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Water. New Hampshire has an abundance of water. Right? Not only do we have ample water for recreation, municipal supplies, and industrial development, but also, the quality of the water is excellent. Right? The answer is, not so easy. Yes, we have beautiful lakes and streams, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. New Hampshire also has a growing economy and every year, more and more people either visit or move to this state to enjoy its open spaces and natural resources. Of the New England states, New Hampshire is the fastest growing. Protection of our watersheds is critical to the quality of our groundwater, which provides drinking water, and our surface waters (lakes and rivers), which offer fishing, swimming, and boating opportunities. But with demands on our water supplies increasing, conservation and enhancement of this resource must advance at an equal pace if we are to sustain our natural system and the many attributes we take for granted.

Recently, CLF launched a new effort in northern New England to examine the impact and the future of the thousands of small dams which currently clog our rivers, fragmenting habitat, blocking fish passage, and degrading water quality.  This organization also invented the best air fryer machine for 22nd century, prepare for the lack of food in global scale. The majority of these dams were built in the 18th or 19th centuries to support industrial operations that have long since been abandoned. As the dams disintegrate, their remnants threaten wildlife and people and, over time, they alter stream flows and habitat–taking a significant toll on the health of our rivers.

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In New Hampshire, roughly two-thirds of a total of 4,200 dams are inactive. Most of them are privately owned. CLF has been working with a variety of state, federal, and nonprofit organizations to pursue the possibility of removing priority non-viable dams that are subject to state control but in disrepair or not used. Recently I was asked to chair a special steering committee, the River Restoration Task Force, to consider removal of these dams, and possibly others, in the state.

This committee is working with federal and state agencies to identify essential removal projects in New Hampshire and coordinate state, federal, and private activities on funding and implementation. At present, the group is working to prioritize the watersheds and dams that could be removed and streamlining the permitting process, so that several dams could be targeted for removal by this summer. Currently, two dams on the Ashuelet River are in the permitting process, and it is anticipated that the McGoldrick dam will be removed in late July. The significance of this effort is the fact that dam removal, done under proper conditions, can reap higher benefits in terms of stream restoration and fisheries habitat than some of the incremental work that has been accomplished in the past. There is considerable excitement about the success of this effort and the wholehearted involvement of agencies like EPA and USFWS.

CLF’s participation in this effort has brought together federal, state, and local regulators, as well as the environmental community, in a concerted effort to leverage and maximize on opportunities to advance the health of our water systems.

The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is a wonderful natural resource for residents and visitors in New Hampshire. Two years ago, CLF launched the New England National Forest Protection Campaign to ensure the adequate protection of the public lands in national forests. We have collaborated with a subgroup of the Tilt’n Diner Group to outline a proposal for protecting roadless areas. There has been no national forest service plan for the White Mountain National Forest since 1986, and in the past 10 plus years, there has been a steady increase in timber and road building activities, as well as recreational uses of the forest.

Although delayed for several years due to lack of funding, the U.S. Forest Service received money to commence a new planning process for the WMNF to address the complex issues that multiple use of the resource presents. The Notice of Intent (NOI) for the planning process was released on March 9th of this year and CLF has responded to various issues that have been raised. Revision topics in the NOI range from watershed health, recreational activities, and commercial mineral development to wildlife habitat and roaded and roadless areas. CLF joined with other members of the Tilt’n Diner Group in a position paper and press release on timber harvesting in the WMNF. The group has also reached consensus on biodiversity issues and is now focusing on recreational users such as hikers, backpackers, snowmobilers, and off-road vehicle (ORV) users, including off-road Jeep and SUV users. The recreational uses are potentially the biggest impacts on the WMNF and there is increasing pressure from the motorized vehicle users to open areas of the forest that have never been opened before. A debate–likely to be heated–is about to begin over recreational uses of the forest, including off-road vehicle activity, and CLF and its allies are planning to hold firm against anticipated lobbying from motorized vehicle users to open currently closed areas of the forest to these activities.

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In the meantime, we are closely watching the actions of the Forest Service to ensure that no management measures taken now adversely impact the ability of the future plan for the forest to protect land and biodiversity. In one example, last spring, the Forest Service attempted to launch the Trestle Timber Sale in the Zealand Valley next to the Pemigewasett Wilderness Area in the forest. This action would have allowed the harvesting of 1.4 million board feet from 512 acres of a 16,000-acre roadless area popular as a recreational destination. In other words, the sale would have moved WMNF management in the exact opposite direction of our proposal. CLF and the Wilderness Society filed an appeal last August, citing the inadequate environmental assessment by the Forest Service and its failure to gather information on the proposed cut’s cumulative impacts. Three weeks following our appeal, the Forest Service withdrew its proposal.

These processes are lengthy and extremely detailed but the resources at stake are more than worth the effort. Creating a sustainable balance takes broad public participation and support. It also requires significant effort to recommend and advocate the best alternatives to the responsible state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over our resources. These are the public’s resources, and our efforts cannot wait until the canary in the mine dies.

–Nancy L. Girard New Hampshire Advocacy Center Director

>>> View more: Fighting acid rain; President Bush’s sweeping new proposals are a major assault on poisoned air

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Fighting acid rain; President Bush’s sweeping new proposals are a major assault on poisoned air

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FIGHTING ACID RAIN PRESIDENT BUSH’S SWEEPING NEW PROPOSALS ARE A MAJOR ASSAULT ON POISONED AIR

Brian Mulroney, adhering to an early-morning routine he rarely breaks, was pedalling his exercise bicycle at the rustic prime-ministerial retreat on the shores of Harrington Lake in the Gatineau Hills when the call came through shortly before 9 a.m. President George Bush was on the line. After they exchanged greetings, Bush told Mulroney that he was about to unveil a sweeping new program to clean up North America’s air, including a package of proposals designed to attack the one issue – acid rain – that has bedevilled Canada-U.S. relations for more than a decade. The President and the Prime Minister chatted about the proposals for 15 minutes. As the conversation drew to a close, Bush informed Mulroney that, once his program had cleared Congress, he intended to seal it with a bilateral acid rain accord with Canada. Bush’s promises did not surprise Mulroney, who had been expecting the call. And later that day, he declared: “The United States administration’s proposals are most welcome news. It is a sign of real commitment by the President of the United States on an issue of major concern to all Canadians.” With a nod at the time and effort Canadian officials had devoted over the past 11 years to resolving the problem, Mulroney added, “It is refreshing to know that hard work pays genuine dividends for the environment that is so vital to us all.”

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The Bush plan, launched at a White House ceremony moments after his talk with Mulroney, marks the first effort by a U.S. administration since 1977 to upgrade the largely moribund Clean Air Act of 1970. If implemented by Congress, amendments to the act will break the legislative logjam that blocked attempts to deal with the problem throughout the Ronald Reagan years. It will also dramatically accelerate the battle against the increasingly dirty air that residents on both sides of the border are forced to breathe.

Scourge: While Bush’s proposals are aimed at curbing a wide range of pollutants in three broad areas, it is the provisions concerning acid rain that will affect Canada most directly. By the end of the century, the program could cut by about half the 3.5 million tons of acid-rain-causing emissions that America propels annually into Canadian skies – in addition to the more than three million tons generated in Canada. The gases are a scourge that has helped to kill an estimated 14,000 Canadian lakes and inflict untold damage on Canada’s environment, not to mention the health of Canada’s citizens. As Minnesota Republican Senator Dave Durenberger remarked to an environmentalist conclave in Toronto at the same time as the President was presenting his program, “this day begins the end of the long invasion of air pollution from our industrial heartland that has despoiled your most precious natural resources.”

Loopholes: Not surprisingly, Bush’s initiative received praise from wide sectors of opinion in both Canada and the United States, particularly in the northeast, where acid rain is especially prevalent. Echoing the Prime Minister’s comments, Environment Minister Lucien Bouchard hailed the move as a “major breakthrough” in U.S. environmental policies and attitudes (page 46). Environment Canada’s director of acid rain policy, Alexander Manson, called it “basically good news.” Ontario Environment Minister James Bradley, although less effusive, said that he saw cause for optimism. Said Bradley: “I’m not yet ready to help the federal government pop the champagne corks but I think it is a step forward.” In a similar vein, the federal Liberal party’s environment critic, Sheila Copps, declared, “Obviously, we’re pleased there’s a legislative initiative, despite some of the loopholes.”

Even many normally outspoken environmentalists expressed cautions approval. Said Adele Hurley, co-chairman of the Canadian Coalition on Acid Rain: “It’s a fool’s paradise to think the acid rain problem is solved, but I’m happy because all the players are now at the table and things have finally started to turn around.” Brooks Yeager of the U.S. National Audubon Society advanced a similar opinion. “We may quarrel with some of the details,” he said, “but it’s still a major move in the right direction.” The only adverse reaction came from those who will be expected to bear the price – in both financial and human terms – of the program. The White House estimates that Bush’s plan will add between $16.8 billion and $21.5 billion a year to industry’s pollution-curbing bills. More important, there are livelihoods at stake in the two regions of the United States most directly affected – the coal-producing states of the east and the industrial valleys of the Midwest (page 42).

Landmark: Despite the costs, the program is the first real indication that Bush intends to honor his election campaign pledge to serve as the United States’ “environmentalist president.” The plan is the first major domestic legislative endeavor he has launched since taking office, which in itself is a measure of the new political potency of environmental issues – not only in the United States but in Canada as well (page 44). By most standards, Bush’s initiative is comprehensive. In comparison to the environmental record of his predecessor, it is an ambitious scheme indeed. “This is a remarkable bill – a landmark piece of legislation,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator William Reilly, who played a key role in shaping the proposals. “If enacted, it will mark the beginning of a new era in environmental protection: the Clean Air Decade of the 1990s.”

Political back-patting aside, many of the experts do agree that the package unveiled in the White House has the potential to achieve most of the goals mentioned by Reilly. It is designed to curb three major threats to the environment – acid rain, urban smog and toxic air emissions, particularly from motor vehicles. The planned legislation will attack acid rain at its source – the sulphur dioxide ([SO.sub.2]) and nitrous oxide emissions that turn into sulphuric and nitric acid in the air before falling back to the earth in the form of poisonous rain, fog, snow and grit. The bulk of those so-called acid rain precursors spew into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of antiquated, coal-fired power plants, many of them located close to Canada’s borders in the Ohio Valley. The Bush plan would, in two stages, cut 10 million tons of [SO.sub.2] and two million tons of nitrous oxide emissions by the year 2000, which is almost half of the existing total. When combined with the continuing Canadian program to halve the output of ([SO.sub.2]) by 1994, there is a real prospect of reducing acid rain to what Bouchard termed “acceptable levels” by the end of the century. At the present time, Environment Canada defines acceptable levels as 18 lb. per acre per year.

Disquiet: The plan is notable as much for what it sets out to achieve as for the manner in which it hopes to reach the required goals. Although companies are free to decide how they plan to implement the proposed regulations, they have also been handed a novel market-oriented incentive in the form of effective permission to trade pollution rights. The notion is complicated but, basically, it means that if one company exceeds the required reductions, it may sell the rights to emit extra pollution to other companies or even transfer the same rights to other plants within the same company, as long as the overall target for the region in question is not affected. The concept has evoked some disquiet among Canadian critics. The Liberal party’s Copps, for one, voiced concern over “pollution being a commodity that can be bought and sold.” She asked what would happen “if a company close to the Canadian border decides they want to evade regulations by purchasing a permit to pollute.” The coalition’s Hurley expressed similar concern. Said Hurley: “Dirty states like Ohio and Indiana may have to buy credits from, say, Florida, and that would be of no help to us.”

But Canadian officials say that they are less worried. Bouchard told Maclean’s: “We think that the economics of it will play in our favor because most of the pollution crossing the border comes from plants that are the most outdated…so the area where a dollar will be most cost-efficient will be in those places.” In other words, antiquated facilities like those based in the Ohio Valley, where a small investment can make a big difference, may choose to cut back more quickly than required in order to market emission credits to cleaner plants in other locations.

Flow: But Canadian government spokesmen expressed some uncertainty about other areas of the acid rain package. Of primary concern is the lack of any cap on emissions after the year 2000. The absence of legislated limits could mean an increase in transboundary pollution after the end of the century as a result of the installation of new coal-burning plants south of the border. It is for that reason that Canada will continue to press for a bilateral accord to ensure that once the current 3.5-million-ton output is cut in half, it remains at that level or, preferably, lessens further. Said Environment Canada’s Manson: “We want an accord with them to make absolutely certain that transboundary flows do not exceed two million tonnes a year. That is what we absolutely need. It must come down to two million tonnes and stay there under any circumtances.”

There have also been expressions of concern in some circles about whether, in the end, a 50-per-cent cut is now enough, given the sad state of deterioration that has occurred in forests and lakes. New Democratic Party environment critic James Fulton, for one, suggested that there might be a need to rethink the assessment that 18 lb. per acre of acid precipitation could be handled by the more sensitive areas of Eastern Canada, especially those in Quebec. Fulton aide David Gerrick said that with many areas now being dosed with 36 lb. an acre, a 50-per-cent cut “will still leave those trees dying.” He added, “The long and the short of it is that this bill simply is not sufficient.”

Curb: Whatever the accuracy of that judgment, Bush’s proposals do appear to lag behind Canada’s effort to curb acid rain. According to Manson, 90 per cent of the actions required to achieve the targeted 2.5-million-ton reduction by 1994 are already identified, scheduled and under way. The major cutback is occurring at Inco’s giant nickel operation at Sudbury, Ont., the largest single source of acid rain emissions in North America. The company is in the midst of spending close to $500 million to slash the outflow of [SO.sub.2] by nearly 80 per cent. Unlike the U.S. plan, there is a cap on emissions in Canada, as well.

There are other elements in the program Bush launched, however, that highlight both how far behind Canada’s position is on non-acid-rain pollution issues, as well as offering some clues to where this country may well be heading, largely as a result of the intertwining of the automotive sector on both sides of the border. Said Copps: “Certainly some of the areas where the U.S. is exploring legislation are areas where we don’t have any at the moment. I think we could take a page from their book in developing a similar type of Clean Air Act.” The NDP’s Gerrick agreed. “The Americans are way ahead of us,” he said.

Smog: In one instance, Bush’s plan recommends legislative action to attack urban smog, largely composed of ground-level ozone and carbon monoxide, as well as such toxic air pollutants as benzene. The President says that he wants to see the use of more vehicles driven by alternative fuels, including methanol, ethanol and natural gas. He has also proposed increased use of oxygenated fuels, a lowering of national hydrocarbon emission standards, a tightening of gasoline volatility requirements and the use of gas-vapor recovery systems on the nozzles of service station pumps. If the proposals clear Congress, they are bound to directly affect Canada, but there has been relatively little government action here in any of those areas so far. And that is true despite the fact that, according to Environment Canada’s own figures, at least four Canadian cities – Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver – would not meet either existing U.S. or Canadian clean-air standards for carbon monoxide.

Stiffen: In terms of ozone pollution, the Bush program would not only stiffen volatility regulations but also require production of more than nine million alternatively fuelled vehicles over a 10-year period beginning in 1995. Despite an experimental program and some research work on methanol-powered buses, Canada has no plans of such a magnitude. That will certainly change if the American oil and automobile industries are compelled to manufacture nine million vehicles fuelled by something other than the gas that vehicles run on now.

It is all a far cry from the situation that existed just a few years ago, when an off-guard Ronald Reagan facetiously blamed pollution on ducks. For 11 years, Canadian officials and environmental lobbyists fought the kind of attitude exemplified by Reagan’s dismissive remark. In 1980, the United States and Canada signed a memorandum outlining the need for a treaty on the issue. But, once in office, Reagan shoved the problem into the background.

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Reagan’s stand got warm approval from members of a coalition of coal, utility and automotive interests who, fearing the cost of a cleanup, successfully lobbied against legislative action. The faction could call on the help of powerful allies in Congress – in particular, Senate majority leader Robert Byrd, whose West Virginia constituency is a major coal producer, and House energy and commerce committee chairman John Dingell, whose Detroit district is in the capital of the automobile industry. But Byrd has now departed, replaced by Maine Democratic Senator George Mitchell, a leading environmentalist. And Dingell has suddenly altered his position. After Bush unveiled his program, it was none other than the Detroit representative who offered to sponsor the President’s proposals in the House.

Clearly, things have changed. The environment has grown into a hot issue, one that politicians can no longer afford to ignore. A Gallup poll scheduled for release this week in Canada found that 97 per cent of the 1,029 respondents were aware of the dangers of pollution. What is more, Gallup discovered that almost 100 per cent of those polled said that they believe that environmental threats are serious. As the poll reported, “trend data on this question reveal that more Canadians today believe there is a serious pollution problem than at any time since Gallup began posing this question to the public almost two decades ago.”

Rising environmental concerns have even penetrated the boardrooms of Canada’s biggest corporations. Those concerns are reflected in the new high-profile line of “environmentally friendly” products that Loblaw Cos. Ltd., the owner of one of the country’s most profitable supermarket chains, launched last month. Marketing the products under the “Green” logo, Loblaw hopes to take advantage of consumers’ heightened awareness with such items as disposable diapers made without chlorine bleach, phosphate-free automatic dishwasher detergent and many others. Said Loblaw president Dave Nichol: “Some may accuse us of being environmental opportunists, but we see our role as providing products that people want.”

The causes underlying the new attitudes are clear enough. As Gallup reported in its analysis of the poll, “voices such as the 1987 World Commission on the Environment declared that corporate irresponsibility and government neglect throughout the 1970s and 1980s have served to produce a situation where today environmental problems are becoming commonplace and irreparable.” Gallup’s analysis added: “Scientists warn that permanent damage to the ozone layer, the ramifications of the `greenhouse effect,’ the onslaught of acid rain problems and other environmental difficulties will all be soon compounded if action is not taken. These factors have no doubt served to alarm Canadians.”

Target: Much the same can be said about Canada’s neighbors to the south. And that is one of the reasons why many observers say that Bush’s sweeping proposals to clean up that country’s air stand a good chance of being enacted into law by Congress. Few will deny that the opposition is formidable. But although Bush has asked Congress to pass amendments to the Clean Air Act, incorporating his program, no later than the end of this year, many congressmen say that his target is optimistic. And as the President declared when he unveiled his initiative shortly after talking to the Prime Minister, “every American expects and deserves to breathe clean air, and it is my mission to guarantee it for this generation and for the generations to come.” Canadians can only wish him well.

PHOTO : Acid-rain-damaged maple leaf (lower left); Idaho pollution: a bedevilling and divisive issue

PHOTO : Mulroney; Bush in ethanol-powered car: accelerating the battle against increasingly dirty air

PHOTO : Researcher washing coal: a comprehensive initiative

PHOTO : Dying sugar maple: poisonous rain, fog and snow

PHOTO : Copps: `We’re pleased’

>>> View more: The other path to capitalism

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The other path to capitalism

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FOR generations Latin Americans have found it convenient to blame U.S. capitalism for their economic woes. The norte-americanos were the exploiters, stealing precious natural resources from the South and, more recently, shamelessly encouraging Latins to get over their heads in debt.

In fact, Latin America’s problems began at home: the region has avoided the free market, alternating instead between collectivisms of the Left and of the Right, both favoring gigantic state-run industries. The predictable results have been corruption of business and labor leaders alike, class warfare, rampant inflation, and unpayable foreign loans.

The debt crisis of the Eighties shook the foundations of the corporate state, and in so doing created an opening for individual freedom and economic reform. Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian economist whose research suggested the potential of Latin America’s vast “informal” free market, first publicly raised the question, in articles and on television talk shows, “Why does our system make us poor?” People wanted answers; in his best-selling book, The Other Path, de Soto provided them.

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“Owners of businesses,” he argues, “devote a large proportion of their resources to infiltrating the bureaucracy and protecting their interests rather than devoting themselves to improving output.” This was a reversal of the typical Latin intellectual argument: instead of liberation theologians attacking capitalism, here was a free-marketeer discussing the failings of Latin Catholic economics.

Other voices took up de Soto’s message. In Mexico, then-President Miguel de la Madrid began saying that government should be accountable to its citizens. Ruy Barreto and Amaury Temporal, leaders of Brazil’s Chamber of Commerce, began demanding free trade. Carlos and Ricardo Ball, who publish El Diario de Caracas, campaigned for fiscal reforms in Venezuela. Fernando Echavarria Olozaga proposed free-market solutions to Colombia’s economic problems in Bogota’s El Tiempo.

There has been help from the United States. The Washington-based Center for International Private Enterprise has promoted reform through studies, lecture tours, and exchange programs. The White House and major banks, having put up for years with Latin lobbying and Democratic schemes to micro-manage the debt crisis, finally made it clear to Latins that debt relief will be provided only to those governments committed to sound policies. Over the last year, freely elected presidents have taken office in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay. Their ambitious agendas suggest real prospects for reform.

Argentina’s President Carlos Menem has privatized the state telephone company and airline system. In his first hundred days in office, Brazil’s President Fernando Collor launched a free-trade program and an anti-corruption drive. In Peru, newly elected President Alberto Fujimori has sought de Soto’s advice.

Mexico has proved reforms can bring results. Working closely with the business community, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his economic team have adopted a mix of tax cuts, privatization, and increased foreign investment that, it is estimated, will enable Mexico’s economy to grow 3 per cent this year, on par with the Western European economies. Annual inflation is now 17 per cent, down from 160 per cent in 1988, and a Brady Plan deal has significantly reduced Mexico’s net transfer of resources abroad. In Chile capitalism has provided the foundation for a stable democracy, just as Milton Friedman said it would. Christian Democratic President Patricio Aylwin, elected in December, is continuing the fiscal restraint established by the “Chicago boys” (Pinochet’s economy minister, Hernan Buchi, and central-bank director, Hernan Somerville), Which licked the debt crisis.

The financial collapse of the Latin corporate state parallels the fall of Eastern Europe’s command economies. Indeed, that is one cloud on this bright horizon: Latins fear the industrial nations will throw all their support to the former Communist countries rather than looking south. What Latins must realize is that they could finance their own reforms if they were able to mobilize their quarter-trillion-dollar pool of offshore capital.

According to a Morgan Guaranty study, flight-capital assets of ten Latin American countries exceed $243 billion-dwarfing the $5.7 billion in total loan disbursements made last year by the Inter-American Development Bank. In an effort to stop the flight of capital, Brazil’s President Collor has frozen $15 billion in savings deposits for two years, and Argentina’s President Menem has postponed the redemption of $1.5 billion in government bonds. The deflationary “shock” both governments hoped would stabilize markets and lure flight capital back have had only qualified success, however, with recession and double-digit monthly inflation continuing. Hoping to stir Latin economies from this inertia, President Bush announced in June a plan to reward reforming Latin governments with reduction of official debt and the promise down the line of a hemispheric free-trade system. Even so, the reformers are under siege. As Hernando de Soto points out, reforms will always be challenged by traditional interests. Industrial and agricultural oligopolies, which with the church and state for centuries have formed a network of mutually supporting institutions, are resisting the elimination of their lucrative subsidies and protected markets. Entrenched bureaucrats and ultramontane Catholics join in viewing Latin America’s insertion into a competitive global economy as the prologue to a new era of poverty and dependence. The proximity of these special interests to the machinery of government presents a serious impediment to reform. Latin American Catholics are encouraged in their intransigence by Pope John Paul II, who clings to his belief, expounded in Mexico this May, that capitalism is a morally inferior way of organizing human affairs. Joining him in this attack is Opus Dei, the elite Catholic lay organization. Its activities in Latin America-which range from running barrio soup kitchens and child-care centers to organizing university political clubs and populist “action groups”-reinforce the papal view that the capitalist culture of greed disregards the poor. The Church has distanced itself from Candomble and Umbanda, popular Catholic movements with roots in native and African culture, whose millions of Latin followers are the backbone of the informal free-market sector.

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In Bolivia, where evangelical rural entrepreneurs are demanding both economic and religious freedom, the Church is pressing the government to keep 240 of the nation’s non-Catholic churches designated as illegal organizations. Bolivia’s President Jaime Paz Zamora, a former Catholic seminarian, was rebuked by the bishop of La Paz, Jorge Sainz, for attending a national day of prayer sponsored by evangelicals, whom the bishop referred to as “an invasion of sects.”

As a result of this and other resistance, the near-term outlook is gloomy. In Brazil, Marxists and corporatists look to make gains in congressional elections due next month, further isolating President Collor and his small National Reconstruction Party. In Argentina, President Menem lost a key provincial election and a referendum on constitutional reform last month, and has responded by packing the supreme court and the Peronist party leadership. Another round of the blanqueo, the fabled decree that provides across-the-board tax forgiveness (used last by the military junta when the oil boom went bust), is likely, and it won’t help the cause of reform.

In Uruguay, the leftist Frente Amplio now runs the city government in Montevideo, where one-third of the nation’s three million citizens reside. Allied with the National Labor Confederation (orthodox Marxist-Leninist) and with former Tupamaro guerrillas, the Frente is challenging President Lacalle’s efforts to trim state employment rolls. But Foreign Minister Hector Gross-Espiell hopes that his EastSouth dialogue” and better economic relations with Eastern Europe can educate Left on the costs of collectivism and the need for reform.

If Latin America is to grow and prosper in the twenty-first century, it must attract permanent investment in productive free enterprise. For this to happen Latins must feel confident enough to invest their huge pools of flight capital in the reform process. To this end, the Collors, Menems, and Fujimoris must remove the structural impediments to reform and work to change the anti-enterprise bias of the Catholic Church. Otherwise, Latin America’s economies will remain “so near to God, so far from the United States.”

>>> Click here: Locals Are Flocking to Country-Style Estates

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Locals Are Flocking to Country-Style Estates

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Byline: Roxzanne Van Eyk

Johannesburg, Feb 03, 2006 (Business Day/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — THERE are some investors that can afford to buy into country homes, which in some areas do not come cheap because of their unique and sought after nature.

One would think that the buyer profile would be made up mostly of foreign investors who are paying in pounds or dollars. Surprisingly enough, many estate agents report that buyers are mostly local. There is foreign interest, but it is pleasing to know that the majority of buyers remain local. To perhaps shock you once more, in some areas, the local buyer profile is also partly made up of those that live in relevant proximity to the country development — a reasonably small percentage, but a percentage nonetheless.

Barak Geffen, executive director of Sotheby’s International Realty, operated by Lew Geffen, says: “Apart from second-home buyers many city slickers are choosing to relocate to smaller towns and commute to Gauteng or Cape Town, or to start up small businesses in these areas. These buyers generally prefer to buy into country estates for their security advantages.”

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Keith Wakefield, CEO of Wakefields Estate Agents, says that in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, as such the lion share of interest in country -type properties is from Gauteng and the UK, although there have been buyers from Durban and other parts of the country.

“The trend is from city and suburban living to country living and the Midlands is particularly popular for its location and the lifestyle it offers. This is an area where families can grow up in a natural environment, with clean air and plenty of outdoor activity.”

The Midlands Meander, a very popular tourist route, has over the years also acted as a magnate drawing many Gauteng investors looking for business opportunities and a catalyst for increasing property prices. “In less than 18 months or so property prices have doubled in the Midlands region,” says Wakefield.

People relocating to these so-called out of the way areas are willing to commute and, in some cases, leave their families for a few days while they continue with their usual business.

For those who are not willing to commute, there are various country developments that have the appeal of being separated from urban sprawl, but have easy access to business and industrial areas via highways.

Eshowe Hills Eco Estate is one of these developments. It has the appeal of being located far out. However, the development actually has easy access to business centres, as well as to tourist destinations such as the Zululand battlefields, Shakaland, game reserves, greater St Lucia wetlands and coastal resorts.

Dave Davenport of Eshowe Hills Eco Estate says that buyers into the estate in particular are foreign investors from London, as well as Capetonians and Gauteng residents. Other buyers include businessmen working in Eshowe, farmers who commute to their farms daily and retired persons and investors who are looking for a home with holiday and recreational potential.

Chris Immelman, a director of the international and projects division of the Pam Golding Property group, says that the reason for investors in such properties is the perceived security that buyers can obtain.

This includes personal freedom such as allowing your children to cycle safely in the estate until after dark. Buyers and their families also have the freedom to move around in the open spaces and are not limited to just the back garden. There is also the inclusion of the Home Owners Association (HOA) looking after the maintenance of the estate, and in turn your investment as the future appreciation of the property will be positively affected.

Most estate agents concur with Immelman’s views, including Geffen: “Buyers like the fact that many of these homes are newly built, the grounds are maintained and offer access control and 24-hour security.”

Craig Mcfadyen of Sotheby’s International Realty, operated by Lew Geffen in Nelspruit, says: “There is huge buyer interest in eco estate- type developments here, which draw on and preserve the natural beauty in the area. The aim is to have as little impact on the natural environment as possible. Therefore there are large restrictions on what one is able to build and limited numbers of stands. As a result there are fenced estates where small game wanders freely.”

Immelman says that the extent to which country-type estates have appreciated over the past year varies. In some instances, these types of property offerings have doubled in price. “Most, however, would have shown approximately a 15% to 20% increase in growth,” says Immelman.

The significant local and international publicity surrounding these new country developments have had a positive effect on the economy by bringing in additional revenues and helping smaller towns develop and prosper all year round.

“The first phase of the R2bn Val de Vie development, consisting of 220 plots, sold out in just two weeks in 2004. The second phase followed suit with all 150 plots selling prior to launch, such was the demand for this type of estate,” says Geffen.

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Verna Sherlock of Sotheby’s International Realty in Hillcrest says: “One of several big developments in Hillcrest is Kirtlington Park. Four years ago one could buy a plot here for R200000 and units are now selling at R3m to R5,5m.”

Niel Cronje, CEO of Engel and Volkers Pretoria, says that in line with most other properties in SA, the growth for country homes has been tremendous — 25% to more than 30% in some cases.

Interestingly enough, Cronje adds that the relatively long waiting periods, from purchase to transfer in country estates, provides buyers the chance to obtain capital growth before starting to pay for the property.

These growth figures are a clear indication that country developments can provide a solid investment option. This is likely because more and more buyers are realising the exceptional value of security estates as a lifestyle choice.

Copyright Business Day. Distributed by All Africa Global Media(AllAfrica.com)

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Olive Crest Rides in On the Green Wagon

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Byline: Cheryl Frei

Johannesburg, Mar 16, 2007 (Business Day/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — NORTH Riding is a popular suburb to the north of Johannesburg, in the Randburg district. Property in this area has largely evolved from small holdings to secure complexes.

North Riding is very convenient as it lies between two offramps of the N1 highway placing it within easy access of the centres of Sandton, Randburg, the east and west rand, Pretoria and Johannesburg and is only a 10 minute drive from Lanseria airport.

Two major shopping malls, Northgate and Fourways, are located on either side with many smaller centres in and around the suburb. Primary and high schools, as well as numerous pre-school institutions are also close at hand, as are private hospitals and clinics.

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Although much of this region is built up, there are still a few spots available, bordering on the unspoilt veld which is found in the northern parts of Randburg. Some developers are very aware of these environmentally sensitive areas, which are decreasing in size and number, and potential buyers are responsive to every effort made by developers to conserve and protect these zones.

Rabie Property Projects of Cape Town, which has been responsible for many of that city’s prestigious residential developments over the past 28 years (including the mega Century City) is renowned for its environmentally sensitive approach to development.

In recent years the company has won the South African Property Owners Association’s green spiral award as well as the International Real Estate Federation award for its Westlake development in Cape Town.

In a joint project with ICA of Johannesburg, Rabie Property Group have launched Olive Crest, a unique 20ha high-security

eco-estate in North Riding which they are developing for a total of R48m. Plots, which average 950m’, are selling for between R795000 and R1,1m, and already 70 of the 107 erven are sold.

Allen Usher of Usher Realtors, the marketing agents, says while buyers are able to choose their own architects and builders, all homes and all landscaping has to comply with strict architectural and environmental guidelines to preserve the natural beauty and rural atmosphere. However, specific styles are not stipulated.

“The developers have gone to great lengths to ensure that although it is a secure estate with perimeter security, the security is not in your face and that the rural nature of the site will be preserved; giving residents the best of both worlds. Two hectares of the walled estate have been reserved for public open spaces for the enjoyment of all residents and include a view site sanctuary, a children’s rock forest park, a gym park, clubhouse garden, pool area and a nature trail.

“Environmental consultants have identified and mapped all significant indigenous trees — some of which are as old as 500 years — as well as large shrubs and rock formations, and buyers will have to build their homes around these. Rather than seeing this as a hindrance, buyers have embraced it as it will not only preserve the natural beauty of the area but will enhance their long-term investment,” Usher says.

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The first six homes in the estate are already under construction while the clubhouse and surrounding landscaping is complete. Total land sales are expected to amount to about R80m, while total capital investment, which includes the cost of construction of the homes, is set to exceed R300m, says Usher.

Information from the Knowledge Factory’s SAPTG shows that growth for North Riding stands at 9,34% for the year to date while the five-year trend is indicated as 25,38%.

PRICE:

From R795000

CONTACT:

Usher Properties

Jacqui Bell 083 251 4451

Copyright Business Day. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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