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Brazil fund plan to protect Amazon

Source:  Copyright 2008, Press Association
Date:  August 2, 2008
Original URL: Status DEAD

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed a decree creating a fund that will seek donations from developed countries to help protect the Amazon rainforest and combat global warming.

Officials said the fund could raise as much as £10.5 billion by 2021 for projects promoting alternatives to rainforest destruction, protecting nature preserves and developing scientific and technological advances to protect the environment.

"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.

But even as he sought to attract foreign money, Silva took a swipe at international concerns over Brazil's stewardship of the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness.

Other countries "talk as if they own the Amazon, but we know what it represents to humanity and to Brazil. And what needs to be done will be done", he said.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the fund is essential for promoting a new development model for the impoverished region, covering nearly 60% of the nation.

"Our war isn't against last month's deforestation numbers, it's against a model that leaves people impoverished and that destroys the rainforest," Minc said.

Environmentalists said the fund may be more important for what it symbolises than for how much money it eventually raises.

"This is the first time Brazil is accepting the link between global warming and preserving the forest," said Sergio Leitao, director of public policies for Greenpeace Brasil. "For a long time, Brazil was violently opposed to this, insisting fossil fuel was to blame. That's true, historically speaking, but today forests play an important role."

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.

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