Sunday, August 15, 2010

US-Brazil debt for nature swap to protect forests

BBC: The United States and Brazil have signed an agreement converting $21m (£13.5m) of Brazilian debt into a fund to protect tropical ecosystems. Instead of paying back the debt, Brazil will use the money to conserve its Atlantic coastal rainforest, as well as the Cerrado and Caatinga ecosystems. All three are under threat from severe deforestation, but receive much less attention than the Amazon. The US has signed similar debt swap agreements with 15 other countries.

Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the deal represented a "qualitative leap" in cooperation with the US. Brazil will use the money over the next five years to support conservation and boost the livelihoods of people who live in the threatened forest areas. Ms Teixeira said the Amazon rainforest had not been included because it was already receiving conservation funds from other sources.

The Atlantic forest once covered most of Brazil's coastline, but more than 90% of it has been cleared over the centuries. Despite this it still supports huge biological diversity, including 200 bird species and 21 primates found nowhere else on earth….

Japanese immigrants logging in Brazil, around 1930

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