Sunday, May 22, 2005

Environment vs making lots of money in Brazil. FIGHT!

Brazil: Save trees vs making billions off of farming that help to employ thousands of people?

In 2004 the government decided to make a stand in this half-moon shaped area stretching along the southern and eastern edges of the Amazon. A year later, environmentalists and government officials have little to show for the effort. The government said on Wednesday that deforestation jumped to its second highest level on record in 2003-2004, to 10,088 square miles (26,130 sq km) -- an area nearly the size of Belgium and slightly bigger than the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Just under 20 percent of the world's largest tropical forest, which is home to an estimated 30 percent of the world's animal and plant species, has now been destroyed. Even if last year was below the deforestation record of 11,216 square miles (29,050 sq km) reached in 1994-1995, the deforestation levels during the past three years have never been so consistently high, all above 20,000 square km. The Green Party quit President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's center-left ruling coalition on Thursday in anger at the figures. ....High world prices for Brazil's leading farm goods, such as soy which fetched around $10 billion in exports last year, are making farming very attractive in Brazil. The powerful farm sectors' soaring profits are making the government's job of controlling deforestation that much harder, not least because many government officials see the sector as key to Brazil's soaring export boom. Environmentalists fear this may represent an insurmountable challenge for the government. The fact that the government did not discuss the deforestation figures with environmentalists, as they do every year, before releasing them this time could have been an ominous sign. "It looks like they no longer believe in the possibility of calling on society to react to this and they are trying to diminish the importance of the deforestation," said Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of the Earth in Brazil.

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