Friday, April 17, 2009

Protecting Brazil's forests has a price

IPS: Government officials, business leaders and non-governmental organisations agreed in Brazil on the need for rich countries and companies to "pay" the people of the Amazon jungle as "providers of environmental services" for contributing to the fight against climate change by not deforesting.

The idea, which Brazilian President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva had already set forth, was at the centre of a debate in the Latin America edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF), held Wednesday and Thursday in Rio de Janeiro. The debate on "Managing the Amazon: A Global Responsibility?", hosted by the British national public broadcaster BBC, started off with alarming statistics and predictions.

The Amazon jungle, which covers six percent of the earth’s land surface, is suffering an "irreversible" process of deforestation, which is having an extremely serious effect on global warming, the participating experts said. Brazil, one of the eight South American countries that share the Amazon jungle, is the world's fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, with 48 percent of its gases coming from the burning of the rainforest for the purposes of clearing land for agriculture.

But participants in the debate, including Luiz Fernando Furlan, president of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation, said the problem could be reversed if a "market value" for the rainforest was established and paid. The responsibility would be shared by local governments as well as businesses and the international community.

The environmental services provided by a rainforest include climate regulation, rainfall generation, carbon storage and the maintenance of biodiversity.

"If rainforests disappear, there will be droughts that will affect agriculture in other parts of the planet," said Furlan. "That means they have an economic value. In this case, for agriculture, I would say. This is part of the principle that people don’t cut down trees because they want to, but because they have to survive." …

Two hours from Rio, Ieda Sommer shot this image of the Macae de Cima forest, , a sanctuary for monkeys, snakes, birds that can only be found here.

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