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Paying to save trees: Last gasp for the forest

A new climate treaty could provide a highly effective way to reduce carbon emissions by paying people to not cut down forests

Source:  Copyright 2009, Economist
Date:  September 24, 2009
Original URL: Status ONLINE


A new climate treaty could provide a highly effective way to reduce carbon emissions by paying people to not cut down forests

IN THE south-eastern corner of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, in the municipality of Novo Aripuanã, there is thick forest cover--for now. But as new, paved highways are driven into the trees, illegal loggers inevitably follow. At the current rate of deforestation, around one-third of the forest in Amazonas will have been lost by 2050, releasing a colossal 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Novo Aripuanã is the site of a novel response to this threat: the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve, an area of 600,000 hectares (1.2m acres) bordered by two highways. This is a nature reserve with an unusual twist: local people will be paid to prevent the trees from being cut down. Each family in the area has been issued with a debit card. Regular inspections will ensure that the trees are still standing: as long as ...

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