Worm's eye view of a mahogany tree in the Amazon forest, Brazil
The decree by President Lula of Brazil to create the 6.4
millionhectare (around 16 million acres) conservation area is a
great victoryfor the people of the Amazon battling landgrabbers,
cattle ranchers andloggers. The decree calls for around 1.6 million
hectares to bepermanently protected and totally off limits to
Another2.8 million hectares will be used for sustainable logging
concessionsto prevent deforestation and ensure well-managed
forests. Developmentguidelines will be improved in an additional 2
million hectares offorest.
Whilst the 6.4 million hectares is a victory for manycommunities
in the Amazon, it still represents less than two percent ofthe
total Brazilian Amazon. An area one-third the size of the
newconservation area is lost every year in the Amazon to logging,
soyplantations and cattle ranchers.
"This is a great step towardsthe protection and sustainable use
of the world's last ancient forestsbut is only a fraction of what
is needed. The Amazon and the life itsupports is seriously
threatened by destructive logging and landclearance to grow crops
like soy. We need more initiatives like this tosave the world's
last ancient forests," said Paulo Adário, forestcampaign
co-ordinator for Greenpeace Brazil.
The newconservation areas will be created in a crucial part of
the Amazonalongside the notorious highway called the BR163. The
road cuts throughthe heart of the Amazon and a promise by the
Brazilian Government topave the road has resulted in accelerated
rates of deforestation in thearea. Without the increased protection
this decree provides, this areawould have soon been destroyed for
soy plantations and cattle ranches.
Inthe city of Curitiba in southern Brazil, the Convention on
BiologicalDiversity (CBD) will meet in March to work on plans to
protect theworld's biodiversity from being lost to the world
permanently. One ofthe main aims of the CBD is to create a global
network of protectedareas that would form the basis for the
protection of the world'splants and animals by 2010.
If the goals of the CBD are to bereached, Brazil and many other
countries will have to greatly increasethe rate of forest
protection. The consequences of failing to do so aremore than just
a broken international treaty. With only 20 percent ofthe world's
original ancient forest still standing, the fate of theseforests,
the wildlife that lives in them and the millions of people
whodepend on them everyday for their livelihood is at stake.
Canada recently announced that over two million hectares of the
Great Bear Rainforestalong the pacific west coast of the
country will be protected alongwith sustainable management for a
further four million plus hectares.With Brazil adding another 6.4
million hectares, the global network ofprotected areas are
beginning to fall into place.
However,with around 10 million hectares of forest around the
world beingdestroyed each and every year, there is still much work
to be done.
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