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It’s Time Brazil Let the World Help Care for the Amazon

Brazilian Amazon deforestation Brazilian Amazon deforestation

Brazilian Amazon deforestation Brazil has responded quite harshly to rumors of foreign nations buying parts of the Amazon to conserve it. Brazil believes, and I'm trying not to bust out laughing as I write this, that they are the best caretakers of the Amazon.

This is clearly ridiculous. Brazil wants no international control over its rainforests because it wants to exploit them as much as possible, without realizing that in the long-term, there is more money to make from ecotourism than logging.

But of course that tourism money is not going to go to the oligarchs in nearly the boatloads as logging and cattle.

For all the downsides of globalization, one potential upside is that nations can band together and help preserve vital ecosystems. But the Lula presidency seems to me, and no doubt I can comment on this with much more authority, to be looking back to the nationalistic movements of the 50s-70s that focused a lot on land reforms that would give a lot of people access. W

While that sounds good, doing so almost always results in an environmental disaster. The best recent example is Zimbabwe, where Mugabe's attacks on white landowners has led to more people having more land, but has not helped out poverty one bit, while decimating wildlife populations.

I wish Brazil would not respond so negatively to these proposals and come to realize that they have one of the Earth's greatest resources and that they can exploit this resource economically through tourism while doing much less damage to the landscape.

This story about people in Brazil crusading against large companies in the Amazon is worthwhile, and provides more reason for hope in terms of the Amazon.

It's just good to see residents in the Amazon not being afraid of landowners and companies in the wake of the murder of activist Dorothy Stang at the beginning of last year. Here's hoping Mr. Feitosa keeps the flame of Stang's efforts alive for a long time (and stays among the living, as well).

Mister Trend, the author, has his own blog at http://alterdestiny.blogspot.com. Comments can be sent to  mistertrend@hotmail.com.

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  • John Leung

    hey
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  • christian d bonillo

    christian bonillo
    brazil ?????? 🙁

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    I have given myself time to contemplate your reassurance that the situation is not hopeless. I suspect your analysis of the problem and its solution is probably accurate. My hopeless feeling comes from my view that the Brazilian government structure/culture is either unwilling or unable (or both) to implement these very difficult initiatives. The question for me is whether the international community has any role in preserving the Amazon before it is gone. I see little evidence that Brazil’s government or its citizens will confront the situation or will permit any assistence from outside.

    Ric, this is a subject I would like to become more knowledgable about. How did you learn about the subject and can you give any English language resources that provides a balanced perspective?

  • Ric

    Not hopeless, part 2
    Perhaps most important, make sure that all employees at the sawmill or on the ranch or plantation are legal, with INSS personnel and accountants, in terms of salary, vacation, FGTS, PIS/PASEP, in short, legal.

    Most local logging trucks lack safety items, fenders, licensed drivers, weigh stations, many have either brakes or working clutches but not both, some lack starters if they have clutches, some lack bodies. Where there are state or local road police, they are paid off.

    The long haul trucks are overloaded almost without exception, NF (tax document) made out with a lower value than the real one, falsification such as listing JatobÀƒ¡ but actually shipping IpÀƒª.

    The boats and ferries have no safety equipment, loggers or brokers sink the logs in certain areas (most wonÀ‚´t float) and send down divers to help bring them back up with cranes when the tax people are not around.

    All that has to be done is enforce the laws already on the books. A vast army at the national, state, and local levels in different government departments is making a living off all this law breaking. Bring a bunch of clueless foreigners in here and all you will do is add a bunch of worthless NGOÀ‚´s to the list of People On The Make and On The Take.

  • Ric

    I donÀ‚´t think itÀ‚´s hopeless. I was just trying to make a point that many foreigners from Ford to Ludwig have gotten involved here and then given up.

    Estimates vary, but probably from 10 to 20% of the jungle has been cut. First, are we talking about the whole basin, or only Brazil?

    The area that has been cut is close to markets, or the easy part has been explored and the rest is not so easy. Most of the lumber cut goes to the Brazilian consumer, and only a small percentage is exported. To be exported the lumber has to be sawn and kiln dried and have a paper trail. Most Brazilian houses are masonry and only use wood for the roof, trim and windows and doors.

    Thhe main three challenges to the rainforest are the small farmer, logging and ranching. The small farmer cuts down an area, burns it off, raises manioc until the soil plays out, and moves on. The jungle comes back very quickly.

    Logging is generally not clearcutting. Only about 10% of the trees are worth cutting and extracting. So one can fly over a logged out area and see very little sign of it from 3,000 feet. Some guys have worked in the woods all their lives and still see a tree that is new to them once in a while. The species are all spread around. NatureÀ‚´s way of preventing the spread of disease.

    Ranching does clear cut. So do those planting dendÀƒª palms or coconuts or aÀƒ§aÀƒ­. The assumption made by the foreign press is that it is either virgin triple canopy old growth or vast areas of eroded dirt. Actually the grasses planted for cattle are great ground cover and must contribute something to the oxygen vs. carbon dioxide battle. Ditto for exotic trees. One day this guy comes into the airclub with a $50,000 camera and wants to fly two hours away to get what he heard were great shots of forest devastation. Two hours away. Get lost. ItÀ‚´s all a game.

    Enforcing the existing laws is all that is needed. ItÀ‚´s illegal to have a chainsaw unless you have a license. I am not kidding.

    Get the corruption out of the Ibama. Fire them all and start over.

    Monitor the sale of diesel and gasoline in remote areas to find out where the consumption, and therefore machinery, is.

    Make sure that the tax paid for reflorestation is actually used for that purpose. Stop making life the hardest for the lumber firms that comply with all the rules, as is done now.

    These are some suggestions. What Brazilians will not stand for is a bunch of foreign Greenies protesting Cargill in Santarem, A PÀƒ©rola do TapajÀƒ³s…..

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    Ric – What should be done?
    Brazil/Brazilians would obviously need to give more than lip service to any plan for the Amazon À¢€“ whether it be national or with international support. Your assessment of circumstances on the ground in the Amazon is indeed daunting. Is it your view that the situation is hopeless? If not what can be done.

  • Ric

    errata
    Should read, 50 kilometers deep.

  • Ric

    I am being serious when I suggest that if Brazil really wants to get even with these foreign do-gooders and tree-huggers, they best way to hoist them on their own petard is to make it easy to buy land here.

    So they come in and purchase ten glebas. A gleba is 5 kilometers by 5, so ten could be 5 kilometers wide and 25 kilometers deep. Most large properties in Brazil have usually been long and narrow.

    First of all they will come up with the money and get a receipt and maybe a deed. Be aware that there is no title insurance per se available on transactions like this. And any deed is subject to court action and prior claims. And for most of the Amazon, there are no deeds at all.

    We assume that they have flown over the property, it cannot be examined on foot because unlike the forest in some parts of the temperate zone, the jungle is closed by vegetation. After buying it it is discovered that there are some people living on it. In Brazil squatters have important rights. Even in the cities the concept of “uso capiÀƒ£o” means that after 20 years living in a location, the occupier can apply for and in some cases receive, a legal title. The people will have to be dealt with by payment, by trading another location to them, or messy and sometimes violent eviction. People die who participate in these activities.
    On both sides.

    This property will have to be secured in some way or more squatters will show up. Maybe a fence. Maybe electronics. Maybe a large staff. What happens with the security staff clashes with the “moradores”? In short, employment and prosperity have come to the area because of some foreigner with a pipe dream. CanÀ‚´t get people from the city to come out there. Has to be Caboclos from the area. One cousin guarding the preserve against another cousin who wants to hunt and steal tools and cut down some trees. This is the way itÀ‚´s done in the areas of the Amazon where there are resort towns where people from the cities go out only occasionally. You must hire a guard to protect your property against his own relatives, all of whom went to school with the mayor and all the cops.

    Remember that in Brazil stealing anything to eat is OK, and the first thing that goes through the CabocloÀ‚´s mind when you guys show up in your boat is, “Porque Àƒ© que estes gringoes veem cargar aqui?” (Why would anyone come to this God-forsaken place?).

    They will resent you as a foreigner for having bought a piece of Brazil. Want to know what the guy really thinks? Get him drunk and stand back and listen.

    The land is going to be there, with the people, long after you or your NGO have lost heart and hit the road. Come. Buy everything you can. Spend your money. Here in The Land of Broken Dreams.

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    Read the first post, it is an answer to your “humble” suggestion. Lots of other things should be more “open” for others to take care of, why don’t you open that first?
    It seems to me the first poster is inviting us to wallow in misery and justify paralysis. The world is not and never has been a utopia and unfortunately it is often unfair. I donˢ۪t make the news I just report it.

    The Amazon unlike oil and most minerals are simply commodities that are not perishable. If I was going to put any energy into this subject it would be to hasten the trend for oil to become obsolete and valueless. Lets find a way to put a cap on those wells, protect the environment and leave Chavez and the crazies in Iran to face the actual reality of the conditions in their countries. Let the multinational oil companies find a new life or go out of business. I fear more the long term foreign policy complications of national companies like Petrobras or the Chinese as they find themselves cozying up to some unsavory regimes like Sudan.

    In regards to À¢€œrich countries burning the oilÀ¢€Â, it seems to me that poor countries also burn the oil. Certainly the rich people in poor countries like to burn oil and travel by air. Those in poor countries without the money to have a car seem to aspire to do the same. Sorry, but we are all in this sinking boat together.

    I am very thankful that some very rich people (many of whom I might not like very much as people) in previous times saved the Elgin Marbles and countless other works of art from countries where they would certainly have been lost from the neglect or inability of their national governments to protect them. You see now numerous examples of these art works returning to their origins or maybe even better for these priceless pieces of art to be in constant movement around the world for everyone to enjoy. If our friend has ideas for how this process could be expedited I would welcome his initiative. If he has a petition, I will sign it.

    There are numerous examples of countries along with very rich people and their foundations preserving natural habitats around the world. Why should Brazilians hesitate for the Amazon to benefit more from such initiatives?

    Is this word À¢€œinternationalizeÀ¢€Â a code word for socialize? If so, I support and welcome the dialog. Maybe IÀ¢€™m wrong but it seems the Che/Fidel/Mao/Soviet experiments have been largely discredited. I think for many of us that model seems unattractive and for the most part has been a failure characterized by profound human suffering. Good governance, transparency and rule of law with the development of strong democratic and economic institutions are what I am looking for. Passivity, whining, and defeatism are not.

  • Ric

    The highest rate of rain forest destruction was during the period when major Brazilian firms were given tax breaks on their entire operation if they maintained cattle ranches and certain other ag projects, which they did, and in the Amazon.

    That program has been discontinued for several years.

  • ch.c.

    For once…to the defense of Brazilians…..
    ….the Amazon is Their country, and it doesnt belong to the world.

    But quite laughable of how proud Lula and his gang are to have reduced the deforestation
    in 2005 and in 2006.

    The reason less deforestation was made is simply because Beef and grains prices were very low and farmers lost a ton of money….somewhat compensated with subsidizes.
    Therefore farmers had no reason and even less money for more deforestation.

    But by now grains prices are well up. Thus the farmers have new hopes, new visions and will AGAIN DEFOREST far more.

    Lula doesnt deserve any merit ! He will relax (not apply…as usual) the laws and will provide new excuses for the increase in deforestation.

    This said if foreigners want Brazilians to preserve the Amazon, in my view, NO problem as long as these foreigners bear ALL the financial costs ! Simple.

    And you all know how generally I am against Lula the cheater !

  • Ric

    Pacific coast. The places that have been cut down are accessible to markets, and most of the Amazon is isolated.

  • Ric

    Nobody is going to cut down the Amazon. Imagine the USA with only two roads leading west from Chicago. And no road up and down the

  • A brazilian

    Dennis
    Read the first post, it is an answer to your “humble” suggestion. Lots of other things should be more “open” for others to take care of, why don’t you open that first?

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    Lets find a solution
    It is difficult for us to comprehend the changing role of À¢€œnationsÀ¢€Â in our evolving world of an economically, socially and ecologically integrated globalized world. We need to be open. No one and no country has any power to control these changes. Countries like the Asian tigers have had the vision to size up the dynamics of this new world order and the courage to engage and make the changes necessary to improve maximize the conditions of their country and its citizens.

    It is interesting to think about how countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and even Japan and Britain donÀ¢€™t/didnÀ¢€™t have significant natural resources or an Amazon Rainforest. Oil rich countries like those in the Middle East and others like Nigeria, the Sudan and Venezuela seem to have been cursed by their apparent natural wealth where conditions in the country do not improve but their À¢€œoligarchsÀ¢€Â are able to hoard the wealth for themselves.

    Those countries without natural resources have learned that in todayÀ¢€™s world they need to explore and À¢€œmineÀ¢€Â the human resources of their countries and À¢€œdrillÀ¢€Â for the natural ingenuity and creativity of their populations. They created legal, economic and educational institutions that maximize the ability of businesses and citizens to be adaptable to rapidly changing world realities. They set the conditions for opportunity and then get out of the way.

    This is the perspective in which I wish Brazilians would view the Amazon. The unquestionable fact is that Brazil needs help with this asset. Set aside an archaic and counterproductive socialistic nationalism and paranoia and welcome support that others wish to offer. Internationalization is such a provocative concept and unnecessary but why not be open to other models of cooperate efforts that have been successful in other parts of the world.
    Brazil and the Amazon situation reminds me of a volleyball game where the ball comes over the net and one player says he will take responsibility to hit the ball so the others back off. Then the other players stand around and watch the ball hit the ground when he is unable to hit the ball. I visualize the world in a few years lamenting the Amazon catastrophe as they assess the destruction with nothing left but the ashes.

    In the meantime I wish Brazilians would forgo the trip to Orlando and plan a trip to the Amazon. Why not
    learn more about and become engaged as citizens in the Amazonˢ۪s future Рusing that same Brazilian passion that is evident when it comes to futball.

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    media business money
    EDUCATION is the key to a better brasil to a better world

    but greed trumps all until the goverment puts aside its me me me rule

    nothing can help brasil the US or the world

  • Guarana

    Amazon
    Well, politcs of land. braZil need to wake up. the amazon is a great place must be taking care by braZilans or anyone with th money to do so. It is a shame how the media and big business ignore the future. Education is the key.

  • Old one.

    for the 2 coments above !
    Wow What a great piece of intelligence !
    The Original post is a dustbin. The comments posted are very apt.

    I also suggest, that the bedroom in white house should be internationalised, very much because, it appears that Bush is having problems with himself, and somebody needs to take care of the first lady. Thus happiness will prevail and bush will leave the rest of the world alone.

    We can probably also internationalise, the airports and entry points to USA, specaily for trade.

  • Mister OlClassic

    Before the (internationalization of the) Amazon Region, I would like to see the internationalization of all the worldˢ۪s great museums. The Louvre cannot belong only to France. Each museum in the world is a guardian for the most beautiful works produced by the human genius. It cannot be permitted that these cultural possessions, as the natural possession of the Amazon Region, can be manipulated or be destroyed according to the whims of an owner or a country. Recently, a Japanese millionaire decided to have a painting of a grand master buried with him in the grave. This painting should have been internationalized.
    At the time of the meeting, in which this question came up, the United Nations convened the Forum of the Millennium and the presidents of several countries had difficulties in attending due to barriers (they faced) at the border. Therefore, I contend that New York, as the base of the United Nations, should be internationalized. At least Manhattan should
    belong to all of humanity. Similarly Paris, Venice, Rome, London, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Recife, every city with its own beauty, its own history should belong to the whole world.
    If the United States wants to internationalize the Amazon Region, due to the risk of leaving it in Brazilian hands, then we should internationalize all the nuclear stockpiles of
    the United States. Particularly since they have already shown that they are capable of using these weapons, causing a destruction thousands of times greater than the sad fires taken place in the Brazilian forests.
    During their debates, the current U.S. presidential candidates have defended the idea of internationalizing the world forest reserves in exchange for the debt. We could begin to
    use this debt to guarantee the right of every child in the world to attend school. We could internationalize the children, treating all of them, regardless of their birthplace, as a
    possession which deserves the care and attention of the entire world. Even more so than the Amazon Region. When the world leaders attend to the world’s poor children as
    possessions of Humanity, they will no longer permit that these children work when they should be studying, that they die when they should be living.
    As a humanist I accept to defend the internationalization of the world. So long as the world treats me as a Brazilian, I will fight so that our Amazon Region will be ours. Only
    ours.

  • Mister OlClassic

    Once, Cristovao Buaque, the minister of education is believed to have said this: (even if it was not him, it is still food for thought)

    During a recent discussion, in the United States, someone asked my opinion regarding the internationalization of the Amazon Region. The youngster asserted that he expected a response of a humanist and not of a Brazilian.
    This was the first time anyone had established the humanist viewpoint as the starting point for my response. In fact, as a Brazilian I would have responded simply against internationalization of the Amazon Region. Even if our governments have not given the attention that this treasure deserves, it is ours. I responded that, as a humanist, realizing the risk of environmental destruction that threatens the Amazon Region, I could imagine its internationalization, just as for everything else that is important to humanity.
    If the Amazon Region, from a humanistˢ۪s point of view, has to be internationalized, then we should internationalize the oil reserves of the entire world as well. Oil is just as
    important to the well being of humanity as the Amazon Region for our future. Nevertheless, the owners of oil reserves feel it is in their right to increase or decrease oil production and to raise or lower the price. The rich of the world, feel they have the right to burn this valuable possession of humanity. Similarly, the financial capital of the
    wealthy nations should be internationalized. If the Amazon Region is a natural reserve for every human being, then it could not be burned down by the decision of a landowner or a
    country. To burn down the Amazon Region is so tragic, as the unemployment provoked by the arbitrary decisions of worldwide speculators. We cannot permit that the worldˢ۪s financial reserves serve to burn down entire nations according to the whims of speculation.
    Before the (internationalization of the) Amazon Region, I would like to see the internationalization of all the worldˢ۪s great museums. The Louvre cannot belong only to France. Each museum in the world is a guardian for the most beautiful works produced by the human genius. It cannot be permitted that these cultural possessions, as the natural possession of the Amazon Region, can be manipulated or be destroyed according to the whims of an owner or a country. Recently, a Japanese millionaire decided to have a painting of a grand master buried with him in the grave. This painting should have been internationalized.
    At the time of the meeting, in which this question came up, the United Nations convened the Forum of the Millennium and the presidents of several countries had difficulties in
    attending due to barriers (they faced) at the border. Therefore, I contend that New York, as the base of the United Nations, should be internationalized. At least Manhattan should
    belong to all of humanity. Similarly Paris, Venice, Rome, London, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Recife, every city with its own beauty, its own history should belong to the whole world. During a recent discussion, in the United States, someone asked my opinion regarding the internationalization of the Amazon Region. The youngster asserted that he expected a response of a humanist and not of a Brazilian.
    This was the first time anyone had established the humanist viewpoint as the starting point for my response. In fact, as a Brazilian I would have responded simply against internationalization of the Amazon Region. Even if our governments have not given the attention that this treasure deserves, it is ours. I responded that, as a humanist, realizing the risk of environmental destruction that threatens the Amazon Region, I could imagine its internationalization, just as for everything else that is important to humanity.
    If the Amazon Region, from a humanistˢ۪s point of view, has to be internationalized, then we should internationalize the oil reserves of the entire world as well. Oil is just as important to the well being of humanity as the Amazon Region for our future. Nevertheless, the owners of oil reserves feel it is in their right to increase or decrease oil production and to raise or lower the price. The rich of the world, feel they have the right to burn this valuable possession of humanity. Similarly, the financial capital of the wealthy nations should be internationalized. If the Amazon Region is a natural reserve for every human being, then it could not be burned down by the decision of a landowner or a country. To burn down the Amazon Region is so tragic, as the unemployment provoked by the arbitrary decisions of worldwide speculators. We cannot permit that the worldˢ۪s financial reserves serve to burn down entire nations according to the whims of speculation.

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