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  WorldWatch 10 Oct 07
“Zero” Amazon Deforestation Possible by 2015, Brazilian NGOs say

by Alana Herro

Halting deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is the objective of nine Brazilian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have drafted an ambitious plan to stop clearcutting in the region within seven years. The groups, which include national affiliates of Greenpeace, WWF, and The Nature Conservancy, presented the proposal at an event in Brasilia on Friday attended by environment minister Marina Silva, state governors, and other authorities.

The plan aims to unite sectors of Brazil’s government and civil society in efforts to conserve the biologically rich Amazon region. “This is just the start, but it is a good start, and it is something interesting,” said Silva, who herself grew up in the Amazon and achieved global recognition as a leading rainforest activist before joining the ministry. “We are building a national plan with common, but differentiated responsibilities.”

The proposal, known as the “Agreement on Acknowledging the Value of the Forest and Ending Amazon Deforestation,” calls for combining strong public policies with market strategies to achieve annual deforestation reduction targets. It suggests that roughly $1 billion Real per year (US $550 million) from national and international sources be invested in maintaining existing forests and the environmental services they provide.

Other recommendations include strengthening forest monitoring, control, and tax measures and providing economic incentives for indigenous people and rural producers to conserve land. “It is necessary to go beyond ‘command and control’ measures by promoting the revision and re-orientation of financial incentives, which historically have been channelled into destructive practices,” the Agreement notes.

By 2006, an estimated 17 percent of Brazil’s original Amazon rainforest cover had been destroyed, an area larger than France. Land-use changes and related deforestation—in particular the clearing of trees for agriculture and livestock ranching—are responsible for up to 75 percent of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions, and they contribute to significant losses of biodiversity in the region. Continued destruction of the Amazon could bring prolonged drought to many regions of Brazil and directly affects the lives of millions of people who rely on the forest to survive, according to the Agreement.

The details of the proposal remain to be worked out through a process involving key national, regional, and local stakeholders. These include Brazilian state and federal government representatives, rural and forestry producers and businesses, environmental and social justice organizations, and indigenous and traditional populations of the Amazon region.

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

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