New Protection for the Brazilian Amazon

Introduction:

The Brazilian Amazon contains about one third of the world's tropical forests. Not only do these forests provide clean air and water, they influence local, regional, and global climate, and they are home to one of largest assemblages of unique plants, animals and micro-organisms in the world. Much of the deforestation that has already occurred in the Amazon has been unregulated, destructive, and unsustainable. The Brazilian government is expanding the rule of law into this frontier region and will regulate and manage future forestry and development.

The government has established a network of National Forests (Florestas Nacionais or Flonas) to stabilize the timber industry and simultaneously protect large tracts of forest. These national forests will promote sustainable forest management for timber production, and also provide buffer zones for more fully protected areas such as parks and reserves. The National Forests will add 50 million hectares of managed forests, an area the size of Spain, to the 122 million hectares of Amazon that is already protected. Thus far, 27 percent of the total area of the Amazon is to some degree protected. Looking at a map (see page six) it appears that Brazil is investing heavily to save the core or heart of the Amazon and allowing people to continue to live in and develop the southern half of the Brazilian Amazon.

Mark Cochrane has been deeply involved in the development and conservation issues in the Brazilian Amazon. We spoke with him about the rationale for the new National Forests.

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