21.3.05

A tale of two species



Columbia is the first and last place the endangered yellow-eared parrot has ever existed, It's habitat restricted to the wax palm forests that carpet the misty flanks of the Andes mountains in Columbia, SA. The wax palm is itself endangered because it is venerated. For centuries the fronds of the wax palm have been used exclusively for Palm Sunday observance by the Roman Catholic Church. 300 million fronds are used annually in the United States alone.

This year's services mark the inaugural use of alternative palm fronds from sustainable resources. The initiative stems from an agreement between the Church and environmentalists. The effort in America was led by the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation and the Rain Forest Alliance in New York. The aim is to promote the use of certified palm fronds harvested by farmers who practice sustainable forestry.

In recent years farmers harvested the palm fronds wholesale often stunting or killing the trees in the process. Using alternative methods and frond species will, it is hoped, avoid the destruction of the wax palm forest and in turn preserve the habitat of the endangered yellow-eared parrot, there are only 540 individuals left.
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