Large area of the Amazon rainforest protected from deforestation

Press release - 14 February, 2006
Greenpeace has welcomed the news that a large area of the Amazon rainforest will be protected from forest destruction. The Brazilian Government has announced that 6.4 million hectares of the ancient forest, an area twice the size of Belgium, will be set aside for conservation.

The BR-163 highway in the state of Para.The road cuts directly through the National Forest and is used for illegal logging operations and deforestation inside the protected area.

"This is a great step towards the protection and sustainable use of the world's last ancient forests but is only a fraction of what is needed. The Amazon and the life it supports is seriously threatened by destructive logging and land clearance to grow crops like soy. We need more initiatives like this to save the world's last ancient forests," said Paulo Adário, forest campaign co-ordinator for Greenpeace Brazil.

The Amazon rainforest is under threat from drought, fires, illegal and destructive logging and land clearance. In the last three years 69,850 square kilometres of the rainforest was destroyed- the equivalent more than 18 football fields every minute. This has led to dramatic losses of biodiversity and contributed to climate change

The area to be protected is particularly vulnerable to exploitation because a road, the BR-163 in Para State, is about to be paved. This could open the forest up to further soy plantations, cattle ranching, logging and other forms of destruction.

Under the Presidential Decree, there will be three levels of protection in the designated forest area. 1.6 million hectares will be permanently protected and totally off limits to logging and deforestation. Logging concessions will be created in a further 2.8 million hectares to prevent deforestation and ensure well-managed forests and development guidelines will be improved in an additional two million hectares of forest.

Worldwide, only 20% of the original ancient forests remain intact. Unless they are protected, we will lose them and the biodiversity they support, forever. Today's Presidential Decree follows the announcement by the Provincial Government of British Columbia last week that it will protect two million hectares of Canada's Great Bear Rainforest.

"We hope these successes signal a new direction for the future of our forests. Governments have the opportunity to act on their promises and protect life on Earth during the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil next month by setting up a global network of protected forest areas," (1) said Gavin Edwards, Global Forest Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization, which uses non-violent, creative communication tools to put the spotlight on global environmental problems and to drive towards solutions essential for a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Paulo Adario, Forest Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace Brazil: +55 92 8115 8928Gavin Edwards, Global Forest Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International: +31 652 391 429See http://www.greenpeace .org

Notes: (1) The Convention on Biological Diversity takes place in Curitiba, Brazil on March 20th to 31st.

Exp. contact date: 2007-01-14 00:00:00