11 Billion Pounds Needed to Save the Amazon Rainforest

20 August 2008

Photo: cameranaturalist

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest needs 11 billion pounds to save it. That is what Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said at the official launch of a new international fund to protect it. The lush rainforest is the “lungs of the world” – but every minute of every day an area the size of a football pitch is cut down. 14% of it has already been deforested.

Logging and burning in the Amazon releases an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, accounting for up to 80% of Brazil's greenhouse gases - and making the country one of the world's highest sources of emissions.

President Lula wants the developed nations of the world to give 11 billion pounds, without any conditions attached, to save this vital part of our ecosystem. Not only does the rainforest recycle carbon dioxide, and create clouds which shade the landscape, it is also the habitat of vast numbers of plants and creatures, many unknown to science, which hold the promise of new herbal remedies and pharmaceuticals . "Brazil will certainly assume its responsibility to preserve the Amazon, to combat global warming," Silva said at a ceremony at Brazil's National Development Bank, which is charged with administering the fund. Norway has already pledged to give £50 billion to the project in September.

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, the Brazilian minister for strategic affairs, said his country would not accept foreign states interfering in its Amazon policy.

"The fund is a vehicle by which foreign governments can help support our initiatives without exerting any influence over our national policy," Unger said, "We are not going to trade sovereignty for money."

Photo: laslzlo-photo

This hard-line stance is fuelled by Brazilian resentment of being dictated to by foreign powers who have often interfered in Brazilian internal affairs in the past, or offered aid with large amounts of preconditions attached. Brazil is also criticised for the deforestation by the West, whilst failing to acknowledge that this happens primarily to supply those nations with goods.

While Brazil is not the only country that contains the Amazon Rainforest within its borders, with 60% it does possess the largest single tract of the forest's span. Eight other countries also contain sections of the Amazon, with Peru having the next largest piece of the forest at 13%. The difference between the two countries shows just how important a player Brazil is when it comes to protecting the Amazon Rainforest.

Brazil's National Development Bank is charged with administering the fund. The money will be used for sustainable development projects, scientific research, and also to combat illegal logging. In the current economic climate the fund may struggle to attract enough funds to reach its goals, but it is another sign of how nations are slowly moving round to tackling climate change in their own lands.






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