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  Yahoo News 3 Oct 07
Groups propose measures to end Amazon deforestation

PlanetArk 4 Oct 07
Brazil Urges World Support for Amazon
Story by Raymond Colitt and Maria Pia Palermo

BRASILIA - Brazil's environment minister said on Wednesday the international community was failing to honor pledges to help protect the Amazon and other tropical forests but that her government rejected specific deforestation targets.

Marina Silva, a former rubber tapper and activist, said a 50 percent reduction in deforestation over the past two years showed Brazil's increased control mechanisms were working.

Ensuring a long-term reduction by changing the economic development model of the Amazon required foreign help, Silva said in an interview at her office in Brasilia.

"We don't want charity, it's a question of ethics of solidarity," said Silva, who defended the Amazon in the 1980s alongside legendary conservationist Chico Mendes.

"We need additional help. In the same way that it's difficult for rich nations to change their energy matrix from fossil to renewable (fuels), it's difficult for developing nations to change their (economic) models," said Silva, who wore a necklace made of tree seeds from the Amazon.

In addition to voluntary donations, foreigners needed to help create alternative economic activity in tropical forests by rejecting eco-unfriendly products, transferring technology, and remunerating genetic research and natives' knowledge.

Despite pledges to the contrary, several western countries were opposing a proposal co-authored by Brazil within the international Convention on Biodiversity that would force pharmaceutical companies to pay for drugs derived from Amazon medicinal plants.

"Rich countries need to pay for the use of our biodiversity," said Silva, who became literate at age 16 and worked as a maid before going on to study history.

She said such aid should be "an additional effort," and not involve carbon credits or other benefits for rich countries.

The United States has not ratified the convention, Australia opposed the new rules and Germany and Switzerland were cautiously monitoring talks, said Braulio Dias, a Silva adviser.

Silva cited Chinese cooperation with Brazilian satellites to help monitor the Amazon as an example of foreign aid.

The administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva busted 1,500 companies, confiscated 1 million cubic meters of wood and 66,000 properties and would reduce deforestation by nearly 75 percent between 2005 and the end of 2007, Silva said.

"We are assuming our responsibility. Brazil had a target of zero illegal deforestation," Silva said without giving a deadline.

An aide said the dynamics in the Amazon were to complex to allow for deforestation targets.

An estimated 9,600 square km (3,707 sq miles) of the world's largest rain forest were cleared in the year ended July 31, compared to a revised 14,039 sq km (5,417 sq miles) the previous year, the government said in August.

It is the lowest deforestation rate since 2000. Environmentalists agree progress has been made but say a rise in commodity prices this year could fuel renewed destruction as agricultural interests seek new land for crops.

Yahoo News 3 Oct 07
Groups propose measures to end Amazon deforestation

Environmental groups on Wednesday gave the Brazilian government a seven-year plan aimed at putting an end to deforestation in the Amazon rain forest.

"It is necessary to immediately halt the deforestation of the Amazon region," said Paulo Adario, a coordinator for Greenpeace, one of nine non-governmental organizations that presented the plan to the government.

"The climate of the planet and the natural diversity of the region cannot support the current rates of deforestation," he told AFP.

The seven-year plan calls for setting a fund with a budget of one billion reals (over 500 million dollars) a year that would be used to combat deforestation and maintain the way of life of those living in the rain forest.

The Brazilian government would be responsible for providing 76 percent of the funds, with the rest coming from sources outside the country.

Environmental Protection Minister Marina Silva, who received the proposal during a ceremony in Congress, said the government will study the project.

About 17 percent of the Amazon forest has been destroyed, according to data released last year.

Brazil is the fourth largest source of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming in the world.

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