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Amerintxia with her pet
Amerintxia sits with her pet monkey, Amazon rain forest.

The Awa of the Amazon rain forest maintain an intimate connection with the wildlife of the rainforest, taking in orphaned monkeys and keeping many animals as pets.

The animals are regarded as part of the family, and Awa women even suckle them.

Awa of northern Brazil is the world's most endangered tribe.

About 360 of the largely nomadic tribe have had some contact with the outside world, and it is believed that 60-100 more uncontacted members are taking refuge in the Amazon.

Image: Internet
Amerintxia sits with her pet monkey.
The Awa of the Amazon rain forest maintain an intimate connection with the wildlife of the rainforest, taking in orphaned monkeys and keeping many animals as pets.
The animals are regarded as part of the family, and Awa women even suckle them.
Awa of northern Brazil is the world's most endangered tribe.
About 360 of the largely nomadic tribe have had some contact with the outside world, and it is believed that 60-100 more uncontacted members are taking refuge in the Amazon.
Amazon deforestation
Amerintxia sits with her pet monkey, Amazon rain forest.

The Awa of the Amazon rain forest maintain an intimate connection with the wildlife of the rainforest, taking in orphaned monkeys and keeping many animals as pets.

The animals are regarded as part of the family, and Awa women even suckle them.

Awa of northern Brazil is the world's most endangered tribe.

About 360 of the largely nomadic tribe have had some contact with the outside world, and it is believed that 60-100 more uncontacted members are taking refuge in the Amazon.

Image: Internet
Awa are being encroached upon from all sides by loggers, who are clear-cutting and burning the forest that both the Awa and the animals they eat call home.
Here, one of the Awa territories is outlined in white, with logging operations throughout the region clearly visible.
Murdered most of their group!
Takwarentxia and his wife and son were contacted in 1992, on the run from ranchers' hired gunmen, who murdered most of their group.

The Awa of the Amazon rain forest maintain an intimate connection with the wildlife of the rainforest, taking in orphaned monkeys and keeping many animals as pets.

The animals are regarded as part of the family, and Awa women even suckle them.

Awa of northern Brazil is the world's most endangered tribe.

About 360 of the largely nomadic tribe have had some contact with the outside world, and it is believed that 60-100 more uncontacted members are taking refuge in the Amazon.

Image: Internet
Takwarentxia and his wife and son were contacted in 1992, on the run from ranchers' hired gunmen, who murdered most of their group.
Brazil: Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply

Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil's space research institute says.
19 May 2011
Brazil: Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply
Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased almost sixfold, new data suggests.
Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil's space research institute says.
Much of the destruction has been in Mato Grosso state, the centre of soya farming in Brazil.
The news comes shortly before a vote on new forest protection rules.
Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the figures were 'alarming' and announced the setting up of a 'crisis cabinet' in response to the news.
"Our objective is to reduce deforestation by July," the minister told a news conference.
Analysts say the new figures have taken the government by surprise.
Last December, a government report said deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had fallen to its lowest rate for 22 years.
However, the latest data shows a 27% jump in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011.
Man made fires to clear the land for cattle or crops in Sao Felix Do Xingu Municipality, Para, Brazil - 2008

Official satellite images shed a new light on the pace of deforestation
The biggest rise was in Mato Grosso, which produces more than a quarter of Brazil's soybean harvest.
Some environmentalists argue that rising demand for soy and cattle is prompting farmers to clear more of their land.
But others see a direct link between the jump in deforestation and months of debate over easing an existing law on forest protection.
"You have 300-400 lawmakers here in Brasilia sending the message that profiting from deforestation will be amnestied, that crime pays," Marcio Astrini from Greenpeace told Reuters.
"The only relevant factor is the Forest Code. It is a gigantic rise."
The Chamber of Deputies has delayed voting on the Forest Code amid at times acrimonious argument but could consider the issue again next week.
The Forest Code, enacted in 1934 and subsequently amended in 1965, sets out how much of his land a farmer can deforest.
Regulations currently require that 80% of a landholding in the Amazon remain forest, 20% in other areas.
Proponents of change say the law impedes economic development and contend that Brazil must open more land for agriculture.
However, opponents fear that in their current form some of the proposed changes might give farmers a form of amnesty for deforested land.
The changes were put forward by Aldo Rebelo, leader of Brazil's Communist Party (PCdoB) and backed by a group in Congress known as the 'ruralists' who want Brazil to develop its agribusiness sector.
© MMIX
 
Thursday, 24 January 2008
Brazil sees record deforestation
Aerial view of deforestation in Brazil, picture by Greenpeace

The Amazon has long been known as the 'lungs of the world'
The Amazon has long been known as the "lungs of the world"
The Brazilian government has announced a record rate of deforestation in the Amazon, months after celebrating its success in achieving a reduction.
In the last five months of 2007, 3,000 sq km (1,250 sq miles) were lost.
Gilberto Camara, whose National Institute of Space Research provides satellite imaging of the Amazon, said the figure was unprecedented.
"We've never before detected such a high deforestation rate at this time of year," he said.
His concern, outlined during a press conference in Brasilia on Wednesday, was echoed by Environment Minister Marina Silva.
Soya expensive
Ms Silva said the rise in the price of commodities such as soya could have influenced the rate of forest clearing, as more and more farmers saw the Amazon as a source of cheap land.
"The economic reality of these states indicate that these activities impact, without a shadow of a doubt, on the forest," she said.
The state of Mato Grosso was the worst affected, contributing more than half the total area of forest stripped, or 1,786 sq km (700 sq miles).
President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to attend an emergency meeting on the issue.
The rise in deforestation will be an embarrassment for the Brazilian president, who last year said his government's efforts to control illegal logging and introduce better certification of land ownership had helped reduce forest clearance significantly.
Even as he celebrated the success, though, environmentalists were warning that the rate was rising again.
The situation may also be worse than reported, with the environment ministry saying the preliminary assessment of the amount of forest cleared could double as more detailed satellite images are analysed.
MMVIII
 
Thursday, 4 October 2007
'Unknown' Peru Amazon tribe seen
Amazon in Peru.

Logging is forcing tribes deeper into the jungle.
Logging is forcing tribes deeper into the jungle.
A previously unknown indigenous group living in isolation has been found deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, a team of ecologists has said.
The ecologists spotted the 21 Indians near the Brazilian border as they flew overhead looking for illegal loggers.
Contact with outsiders can be fatal for isolated tribes people who have no immunity to many diseases.
Some groups have fled deep into the jungle to avoid contact with loggers and oil and gas prospectors.
Nomadic group
The group was photographed and filmed from the air on the banks of the Las Piedras River in Peru's south-eastern Amazon region.
A government official who was on the flight said there were three palm huts on the river bank.
"We've found five other sites with this kind of shelter along the same river," Ricardo Hon told Associated Press news agency. "This group is nomadic."
He said the government had no plans to try to find the tribe again.
The steady advance of logging has forced the isolated groups, among them the Mashco-Piro and Yora tribes, deeper into Peru's jungle frontier with Brazil and Bolivia.
Indigenous leaders say tribes have suffered many deaths from diseases contracted from outsiders.
A pan-American human rights group criticised Peru's government this year for doing little to protect the groups from illegal loggers who are chopping down the mahogany-rich forests in which they live.
MMVII
 
Brazilian government is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway into dying Amazon for Mulitnational Corporations.
Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.
Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.
Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforest.
 
 
Greens hail landmark victory in fight to save Amazon rainforests
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Published: 26 March 2007

One of the world's largest agribusiness giants was forced to close a soy export terminal in Brazil's Amazon region this weekend, marking a major victory for environmentalists who have argued for years that the plant was built illegally and became a significant cause of rainforest depletion.
Brazilian police and environmental officers swooped on the Cargill terminal in Santarem, a deep-water port in the lower Amazon about 850 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. They said they met no resistance as they set about closing operations.
On Friday, a Brazilian judge ruled that Cargill - a US multinational that posted more than $70bn (£36bn) in revenues last year - had failed to submit a legally required environmental impact assessment when it built the terminal in the first few years of this decade.
It was not the first time the courts had ruled against Cargill on the question, but the company had never previously been forced to suspend its operations.
The Santarem terminal has been the target of a Greenpeace environmental protection campaign from the day it opened in 2003.
A Greenpeace report last year, entitled "Eating Up the Amazon", accused Cargill of being directly or indirectly responsible for slave labour, illegal land grabs and deforestation at a rate of six football pitches per minute.
Greenpeace's Amazon campaign coordinator in Brazil, Paulo Adario, was understandably delighted at the court ruling and closure.
"A big step forward has been taken in enforcing the responsible use of natural resources and bringing greater governance in the Amazon," he said.
Cargill, which argues it is an important engine of economic growth in an impoverished region, said it would appeal the ruling which it said was based on a misunderstanding about who — the state of Para or the Brazilian federal government — needs to sanction environmental impact reports for big projects.
Swiss-flag ship Celerina is loaded with over 50,000 tons of soy for Holland at the port built by Cargill Inc., the Minneapolis-based grain giant and Brazil's largest soy exporter, in Santarem, on the Amazon River, Brazil, May 2, 2006

Federal police and government environmental agents, Saturday March 24, 2007 shut down the port saying the company had failed to provide an environmental impact statement required by law.

Cargill argues that soy production covers only 6 per cent of the Amazon area - a price it believes is worth paying for one of Brazil's key export crops. Brazil is the world's second largest producer after the US.

The Brazilian government appears to agree, and is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.

An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.

That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before - a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.

Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.

Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.

Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.

Photo: AP/Andre Penner

Swiss-flag ship Celerina is loaded with over 50,000 tons of soy for Holland at the port built by Cargill Inc., the Minneapolis-based grain giant and Brazil's largest soy exporter, in Santarem, on the Amazon River, Brazil, May 2, 2006
Federal police and government environmental agents, Saturday March 24, 2007 shut down the port saying the company had failed to provide an environmental impact statement required by law.
Cargill argues that soy production covers only 6 per cent of the Amazon area — a price it believes is worth paying for one of Brazil's key export crops. Brazil is the world's second largest producer after the US.
The Brazilian government appears to agree, and is sponsoring construction of a 1,100—mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.
An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.
That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before — a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.
Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.
Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.
Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.
Photo: AP/Andre Penner
Image instered by TheWE.cc
"When we built the facility, the permits were issued by the state," a Cargill spokeswoman, Lori Johnson, told the Associated Press.
"Since that time the federal prosecutor has said we should have done another kind of environmental assessment, and that is the issue before the courts."
The chief prosecutor in the Cargill case, Felicio Pontes, has sided with Greenpeace in seeing the Santarem terminal as illegal.
"Cargill believed that because they were a powerful multinational, they could disrespect both Brazilian legislation and the environment," he said.
Since the Santarem terminal opened, land prices in the region have jumped 18-fold, prompting many landowners to sell to Cargill and other soy-growing multinationals, and spurring a major leap in soy production.
Millions of acres of rainforest have been turned over to soy bean fields.
The soy is used principally to supply European livestock farms.
Cargill argues that soy production covers only 6 per cent of the Amazon area - a price it believes is worth paying for one of Brazil's key export crops.
Brazil is the world's second largest producer after the US.
The Brazilian government appears to agree, and is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.
20 per cent of Amazon rainforest destroyed
An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.
That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before — a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.
©2007 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved
5000 species of fish
many not yet described and likely to become extinct
live in rivers and streams in the Amazon
A labourer prepares fresh river fish for sale at Manaus fish market in the capital of the state of Amazonas March 13, 2007.

The Amazon Basin, quickly being destroyed, boasts the highest diversity of fish in the world.

Some experts believe that as many as 5000 species of fish, many not yet described and likely to become extinct, live in rivers and streams in the Amazon.

The Brazilian government is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.

An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.

That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before - a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.

Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.

Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.

Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.

Picture: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Indigenous Bolivians from the Amazon region perform during a ceremony in the flood-ravaged city of Trinidad, Beni some 400 km (248 miles) northeast of the Bolivian capital La Paz, March 10, 2007.

The worst flooding in a quarter century in Bolivia's Amazon plain has taken place February and March 2007.

Some 40 percent of Beni, which was the hardest hit region in Bolivia, has been under water, and the Bolivian govenment is struggling to deliver aid to remote areas.

The Brazilian government is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.

An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.

That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before - a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.

Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.

Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.

Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.

Picture: REUTERS/David Mercado

(left)
A labourer prepares fresh river fish for sale at Manaus fish market in the capital of the state of Amazonas March 13, 2007.
The Amazon Basin, quickly being destroyed, boasts the highest diversity of fish in the world.
Some experts believe that as many as 5000 species of fish, many not yet described and likely to become extinct, live in rivers and streams in the Amazon.
(right)
Indigenous Bolivians from the Amazon region perform during a ceremony in the flood-ravaged city of Trinidad, Beni some 400 km (248 miles) northeast of the Bolivian capital La Paz, March 10, 2007.
The worst flooding in a quarter century in Bolivia's Amazon plain has taken place February and March 2007.
Some 40 percent of Beni, which was the hardest hit region in Bolivia, has been under water, and the Bolivian govenment is struggling to deliver aid to remote areas.
The Brazilian government is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.
An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.
That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before — a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.
Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.
Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.
Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.
Photos: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker, REUTERS/David Mercado
 
 
Amazon rain forest
Xingu river
Para
Northern Brazil
Deforested area in the border of Xingu river, 140km from Anapu, state of Para, northern Brazil, in the Amazon rain forest.

The key to using trees to offset global warming is to expand tropical rainforests south of the equator, according to research released in the United States.

Photo: AP     

Deforested area in the border of Xingu river, 140km from Anapu, state of Para, northern Brazil, in the Amazon rain forest.
The key to using trees to offset global warming is to expand tropical rainforests south of the equator, according to research released in the United States.
Animal and plant species in Brazil are dying out as rising world temperatures cause more droughts, disease and rainstorms in areas like the Pantanal wetlands and Amazon rainforest, according to studies released on Tuesday.
The Amazon Basin, quickly being destroyed, boasts the highest diversity of fish in the world.
Some experts believe that as many as 5000 species of fish, many not yet described and likely to become extinct, live in rivers and streams in the Amazon.
The Brazilian government is sponsoring construction of a 1,100-mile roadway leading from Mato Grosso, the country's top soy-growing state, to the Cargill export terminal.
An estimated 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and about 6,500 square miles more was lost between 2005 and 2006.
That represented a slight slowing in the rate of destruction from the year before - a trend experts attribute to the weakening of soy bean prices and the strengthening of Brazil's currency on world markets.
Much of the world's soya production goes to feed animals living in unspeakable horror in intensive farming compounds.
Animals kept in intensive farming sheds, in essence tortured all their life until killed for eating by humans.
Soybean production for intensive farmed animal eating is also destroying the remaining large rainforest of Earth, the Sumatra Indonesia rainforests.
Photo: AP
Friday, 21 October 2005
Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed
By Simon Watts
BBC News
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
Scientists from Brazil and the US say new research suggests deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has been underestimated by at least 60%.
The team has completed a study using a more advanced technique of satellite imagery that can pick up more types of logging activity.
These include selective logging, where loggers pick out trees of value but leave the surrounding forest intact.
Brazil's government welcomed the report but said the figures were exaggerated.
Nasa's help
Deforestation in the Amazon is on such a massive scale that the only way of measuring it is by using satellites.
The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.
Map of Amazon River
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
With input from the Nasa space agency, the joint US and Brazilian team used an ultra-high-resolution technique to examine just how much selective logging was going on.
The report was published in the US journal Science.
The researchers concluded that the area of rainforest destroyed between 1999 and 2002 was thousands of square kilometres bigger than previously thought.
They also found that about 25% more carbon had been released into the atmosphere than estimated — possibly enough to affect climate change.
Brazilian officials praised the scientists for highlighting the issue of selective logging, but said the new figures were hard to believe.
The businessmen involved in the practice claim picking out individual trees is more environmentally friendly than the blanket clearance of huge areas.
But environmental campaigners say that to reach the prized trees, roads have to be built and heavy equipment brought in.
This, they say, can be of no benefit to the Amazon.

Slide cursor underneath or side of photos
 
Published on Sunday, July 23, 2006 by the lndependent/UK
Dying Forest: One Year to Save the Amazon
Time is running out for the Amazon rainforest. And the fate of the 'lungs of the world' will take your breath away
by Geoffrey Lean in Manaus
He pointed out what was happening on Wednesday, standing on an island in a quiet channel of the giant river.
Just a month ago, he explained, it had been entirely under water.   Now it was jutting a full 15 feet above it.
It is a sign that severe drought is returning to the Amazon for a second successive year.   And that would be ominous indeed.
For new research suggests that just one further dry year beyond that could tip the whole vast forest into a cycle of destruction.
Just the day before, top scientists had been delivering much the same message at a remarkable floating symposium on the Rio Negro, on whose strange black waters this capital city of the Amazon stands.
They told the meeting — convened on a flotilla of boats by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church, dubbed the "green Pope" for his environmental activism — that global warming and deforestation were rapidly pushing the entire enormous area towards a "tipping point", where it would irreversibly start to die.
The consequences would be truly awesome.   The wet Amazon, the planet's greatest celebration of life, would turn to dry savannah at best, desert at worst.
This would cause much of the world — including Europe — to become hotter and drier, making this sweltering summer a mild foretaste of what is to come.   In the longer term, it could make global warming spiral out of control, eventually making the world uninhabitable.
This year the water is draining away even faster than the last one — and there are still more than three months of the dry season to go.
I am very concerned.

Otavio Luz Castello, Mamiraua Reserve, Brazil
Nowhere could seem further from the world's problems than the idyllic spot where Otavio Luz Castello lives.   The young naturalist's home is a chain of floating thatched cottages that make up a research station in the Mamiraua Reserve, halfway between here and Brazil's border with Colombia.
Rare pink river dolphin play in the tranquil waters surrounding the cottages, kingfishers dive into them, giant, bright butterflies zig-zag across them and squirrel monkeys romp in the trees on their banks.   And an 18ft black caiman answers, literally, to the name of Fred; gliding up to dine abstemiously on sliced white bread when called.   There is little to suggest that it may be witnessing the first scenes of an apocalypse.
The waters of the rivers of the Amazon Basin routinely fall by some 30-40 feet- greater than most of the tides of the world's seas — between the wet and dry seasons.   But last year they just went on falling in the worst drought in recorded history.
In the Mamiraua Reserve they dropped 51 feet, 15 feet below the usual low level and other areas were more badly affected.   At one point in the western Brazilian state of Acre, the world's biggest river shrank so far that it was possible to walk across it.   Millions of fish died; thousands of communities, whose only transport was by water, were stranded.   And the drying forest caught fire; at one point in September, satellite images spotted 73,000 separate blazes in the basin.
This year, says Otavio Luz Castello, the water is draining away even faster than the last one — and there are still more than three months of the dry season to go.   He adds: "I am very concerned."
It is much the same all over Amazonia.   In the Jau National Park, 18 hours by boat up the Rio Negro from here, local people who took me out by canoe at dawn found it impossible to get to places they had reached without trouble just the evening before.
The Swiss-flag ship Celerina is loaded with over 50,000 tons of soy for Holland at the Cargill port in Santarem, in the Amazon state of Para, Brazil, May 2, 2006.

When U.S. grain giant Cargill opened a €16 million, US $20 million port in this sleepy Amazon River city three years
ago, it expected to cash in on the rising global demand for soybeans that is Brazil's richest agricultural export.

AP/Andre Penner
The Swiss-flag ship Celerina is loaded with over 50,000 tons of soy for Holland at the Cargill port in Santarem, in the Amazon state of Para, Brazil, May 2, 2006.
When U.S. grain giant Cargill opened a €16 million, US $20 million port in this sleepy Amazon River city three years ago, it expected to cash in on the rising global demand for soybeans that is Brazil's richest agricultural export.
Acre, extraordinarily, received no rain for 40 days recently, and sandbanks are already beginning to surface in its rivers.
Flying over the forest — with trees in a thousand shades of green stretching, for hour after hour, as far as the eye can see — it seems inconceivable that anything could endanger its verdant immensity.
Until recently, scientists took the same view, seeing it as one of the world's most stable environments.
Though they condemned the way that, on average, an area roughly the size of Wales is cut down each year, this did not seem to endanger the forest as a whole, much less the entire planet.
Now they are changing their minds in the face of increasing evidence that the deforestation is pushing both the Amazon and the world to the brink of disaster.
Dr Antonio Nobre, of Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research, told the floating symposium — whose delegates ranged from politicians and environmentalists, to Amazonian Indian shamans and Roman Catholic cardinals — of unpublished research which suggests that the felling is both drying up the entire forest and helping to cause the hurricanes that have been battering the United States and the Caribbean.
The hot, wet Amazon, he explained, normally evaporates vast amounts of water, which rise high into the air as if in an invisible chimney.
This draws in the wet north-East trade winds, which have picked up moisture from the Atlantic.
This in turn controls the temperature of the ocean; as the trade winds pick up the moisture, the warm water that is left gets saltier and sinks.
A forest in the Amazon is seen September 15, 2009 being illegally burnt, near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

AP/Andre Penner
A forest in the Amazon is seen September 15, 2009 being illegally burnt, near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Deforestation disrupts the cycle by weakening the Amazonian evaporation which drives the whole process.   One result is that the hot water in the Atlantic stays on the surface and fuels the hurricanes.   Another is that less moisture arrives on the trade winds, intensifying drought in the forest.   "We believe there is a vicious cycle" says Dr Nobre.
Marina Silva, a fiery former rubber-tapper who is now Brazil's environment minister, described how the Government was finally cracking down on the felling by seizing illegally cut logs, closing down illicit enterprises and fining and imprisoning offenders.   As a result, she says, it dropped by 31 per cent last year.
But even so, it has only returned to the levels it was in 2001, still double what it was 10 years before.   And it has reached far into the forest after the American multinational Cargill built a huge port for soya three years ago at Santarem, some 400 miles downriver from here.
This encouraged entrepreneurs to cut down the trees to grow the soya.
The symposium flew down en masse to inspect the damage this had caused — vast fields of beans destined to feed supermarket chickens in Europe, where until recently there had been lush, trackless forest.
Priests and community leaders who were campaigning to protect the forest told us how they had received repeated death threats.
What was predicted for 2050 may have begun to happen in 2005
So far about a fifth of the Amazonian rainforest has been razed completely.
Cattle walk along an illegally burnt deforested area near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

AP/Andre Penner
Cattle walk along an illegally burnt deforested area near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Another 22 per cent has been harmed by logging, allowing the sun to penetrate to the forest floor drying it out.
And if you add these two figures together, the total is growing perilously close to 50 per cent, which computer models predict as the "tipping point" that marks the death of the Amazon.
The models did not expect this to happen until 2050.
But, says Dr Nobre, "what was predicted for 2050, may have begun to happen in 2005."
Nobody knows when the crucial threshold will be passed, but growing numbers of scientists believe that it is coming ever closer.
One of Dr Nobre's colleagues, Dr Philip Fearnside, puts it this way: "With every tree that falls we increase the probability that the tipping point will arrive."
Brazilian politicians say that the country has so many other pressing problems that the destruction is unlikely to be brought under control, unless the world helps to pay for the survival of the forest on which it too depends.
Calculations by Hylton Philipson, a British merchant banker and rainforest campaigner, reckon that it will take $60bn (£32bn) a year, less than a third of the cost of the Iraq war.
The scientists insist there is no time for delay.   "If we do not act now", says Dr Fearnside, "we will lose the Amazon forest that helps sustain living conditions throughout the world."
© 2006 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.
Common Dreams © 1997-2006
Trees burn by the village of Santa Maria del Pinar, near Guadalajara, on one front of a raging forest fire, July 2005.

Emergency workers evacuated the bodies of 11 volunteer firefighters who died at the weekend in a massive forest fire in central Spain, the deadliest such blaze in more than 10 years.

The fire, which began in pine woodland at Cueva de los Casares on Saturday, has destroyed up to 12,000 hectares.

Several other forest fires have been burning in other parts of Spain, which like the rest of Southern Europe is suffering from one of its worst droughts in decades, leaving the countryside like a tinderbox.

Photo: AFP/Pedro Armestre
In the past three years, Portugal in Europe has lost 870,000 hectares
(2,149,817 acres) of forest to fires.   (August 2006)
In northern Portugal, residents of Valongo, near Porto, were reported to be very frightened as flames were approaching their houses.
Forest fires have been burning in Spain and Portugal, which like the rest of Europe is again suffering from drought, a continuation of drought of three years, leaving the countrysides like tinderboxes.
In 2001, for example, IBAMA (the Brazilian Environmental Agency) issued authorization documents for deforestation of 5,342 hectares, but the total deforestation showed by satellite images from INPE (the Brazilian Institute of Space Research) reveals that 523,700 hectares were deforested.
In other words, in 2001 just 1% of the total deforestation area was authorized.
Previous years' data is similar.

This year the water is draining away even faster than the last one — and there are still more than three months of the dry season to go.
I am very concerned.

Otavio Luz Castello, Mamiraua Reserve, Brazil Amazon
Saturday, 15 October 2005
Amazon drought emergency widens
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
Lakes such as the Anama have been drying up in the drought
A worsening drought in the Amazon basin has prompted Brazil to extend an emergency across the Amazonas state.
Brazil's military has been distributing supplies and medicine to tens of thousands of people stranded by the dramatic drop in water levels.
Witnesses say rivers and lakes have dried up completely, leaving behind kilometres of sand and mud.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has blamed deforestation and global warming for the drought.
It quoted scientists as saying that the burning of forests has raised temperatures in the Amazon, preventing the formation of clouds.
Brazilian government meteorologists, however, have said the drought is the result of unusually high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, that have also been linked to this year's devastating hurricanes.
Airlift lifeline
A state of emergency has been declared in all 61 municipalities of Brazil's Amazonas state as the drought has started affecting towns and cities further downstream, reports the BBC's Tom Gibb in Sao Paolo.
Brazil's armed forces have been delivering water, food and medical supplies to communities isolated by the worst drought in the Amazon for decades.
The air force has been distributing water-purifying chemicals to counter the threat of disease from water supplies contaminated by dead fish in the Amazon.
Low river levels are preventing boats — for many the only means of transport — from using the Amazon safely, leaving communities depending on government airlifts for their survival.
Big ships have been left stranded in the world's second-largest river and millions of fish are rotting in the sun, witnesses say.
BBC — Thursday, 2 August 2007
European fires near record levels
Firefighter on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife, 1 August, 2007

Blistering heat and hot dry winds have fanned the fires
Firefighter on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife, 1 August, 2007
Blistering heat and hot dry winds have fanned the fires
Forests fires that have ravaged southern Europe during the past month were some of the worst on record, the European Commission has said.
More than 3,000 sq km (1,200 sq miles) of forest had already burned this year, almost as much as in the whole of 2006, the commission said.
It warned of more fires in the days ahead, with Spain and Portugal, where temperatures are soaring, most at risk.
Most recently, fires in the Canary Islands have forced thousands to flee.
Firefighters there are continuing to battle two major fires which have razed some 350 sq km (135 sq miles) of land in the last few days.
Experts described the fires on Tenerife and Gran Canaria as an environmental catastrophe. Some 20% of forests have been destroyed, and recovery is expected to take years.
Rapid reaction force
The normal fire season in Europe has only just started but blistering heat and hot dry winds have already fanned wildfires across parts of southern Europe.
Fire damage on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria, 1 August, 2007

Experts say fires in Gran Canaria are an environmental catastrophe
Fire damage on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria, 1 August, 2007
Experts say fires in Gran Canaria are an environmental catastrophe
July 2007 was one of the worst-ever months on record, according to figures from the European Forest Fire Information System, which date back some 20 years.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Italy have all been affected, as well as countries like the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Turkey.
The EU executive is currently working on proposals for a permanent rapid reaction force to fight fires in Europe, with units ready to intervene at short notice.
The BBC's Dominic Hughes in Brussels says as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather patterns, closer European co-operation on fire-fighting is becoming more pressing.
 
 
Thursday, 22 September 2005
Fires rage in Brazil's rainforest
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
A state of emergency has been declared in Brazil's western state of Acre as fires continue to rage across the country's vast Amazon region.
Thousands of hectares of the world's largest rainforest have already been destroyed by the blazes.
Acre's Governor Jorge Viana urged the federal government in Brasilia to act swiftly, expressing particular concerns about pollution caused by the smoke.
Hundreds of soldiers, rescuers and also local residents are battling the fires.
Correspondents say it is not known what caused the blazes, some of which broke out nearly two weeks ago.
Some 500 people have been evacuated from the area, officials said earlier this week.
In the past, authorities have blamed farmers who burned forested areas in the dry season to make space for their crops.
The blazes have often raged out of control in recent years.

Slide cursor underneath or side of photos
'Save the Amazon
save the climate'
'Stop the deforestation
in the Amazon'
Greenpeace activists dressed as cows participate in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.

The signs read 'Save the Amazon save the climate' and 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

REUTERS/Roberto Jayme
Greenpeace activists dressed as cows participate in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.
The signs read 'Save the Amazon save the climate' and 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Extreme drought in the Amazon rainforest linked to deforestation and climate change
MANAQUIRI, Brazil — The devastating drought currently affecting the Amazon rainforest is part of a vicious cycle created by the combined affects of global warming and deforestation and could cause the collapse of the rainforest, according to scientists from the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia and Greenpeace.
"Brazil is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate changes in the world because of its invaluable biodiversity.  If the Amazon loses more than 40% of its forest cover, we will reach a turning point from where we cannot reverse the savannization process of the world's largest forest," said Carlos Nobre, from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and President of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP).
Seventeen per cent of the Amazon has been completely wiped out over the past 30 years, according to INPE, and even more has been damaged by destructive and illegal logging and other human activities.
Life on Earth depends on ancient forests for its survival.
They are the richest most diverse habitats, and help stabilize climate and regulate the weather.
"This drought and its effects are really shocking.  Towns are lacking food, medicines and fuel because boats cannot get through," said Carlos Rittl, Greenpeace Brazil's climate campaigner.
"If the landscape I've seen this week is a sign of things to come, we're in serious trouble.  We risk losing the world's largest rainforest, the network of rivers and invaluable and varied life it sustains, much of which we haven't even discovered or researched."
'Stop the deforestation
in the Amazon'
A Greenpeace activist dressed as a cow participates in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.

The signs reads 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

REUTERS/Roberto Jayme
A Greenpeace activist dressed as a cow participates in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.
The signs reads 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Amazonian deforestation and fires account for more than 75% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions and place it amongst the top four contributors to global climate change.
"The Amazon is caught between two destructive forces and their combined effects threaten to flip its ecosystems from forest to savannah if measures are not taken to stop deforestation and combat climate change," said Rittl.
Greenpeace is calling on governments to take urgent action to stop deforestation and commit to the massive CO2 reductions needed to protect the Earth's biodiversity and millions of people who are at risk from the impacts of climate change and ancient forest destruction.
Greenpeace has been gathering dramatic images of the worst drought in 40 years in the Amazon this week.
The Amazon River basin is at its lowest level in decades.
Floodplains have dried up and people are walking and using bicycles on areas in which canoes and riverboats used to be the only means of transport.
Large boats have become stuck in the dry mud and the landscape is covered with thousands of rotting dead fish, which are attracting dozens of vultures.
      In the Amazon: Carlos Rittl, Greenpeace Brazil  October 18, 2005    

Slide cursor underneath or side of photos
Friday, 27 June, 2003
Amazon destruction speeds up
Logging in the rainforest.

An area the size of Haiti has been lost to farming over 12 months
An area the size of Haiti has been lost to farming over 12 months
New satellite information from Brazil has revealed a sharp increase in the rate of destruction of the Amazonian rainforest.
The information shows the speed of deforestation increased by 40% between 2001 and 2002 to reach its highest rate since 1995.
Figures from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show more than 25,000 square kilometres of forest were cleared in a year — mainly for farming.
Environmentalists have expressed alarm at the development which represents a sharp reversal of a trend in which destruction had been slowing.
"The rate of deforestation should be falling, instead the opposite is happening," said Mario Monzoni, a project co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth in Brazil.
AMAZON DEFORESTATION
2002: 9,840 square miles (25,476 sq km) lost
2001: 7,010 square miles (18,166 sq km) lost
Environmental organisations say one major cause is the spread of large-scale soya farming in the southern Amazon.
Soya production is growing rapidly in the area as a crop that offers large profits for farmers and gives a sizable boost to Brazil's trade accounts.
But campaigners also blame the authorities for failing to enforce environmental protection laws.
The country's centre-left government, under the leadership of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is due to announce new proposals next week to tackle deforestation.
Task ahead
View from the air

The images show the progression of deforestation in Rondonia, southern Brazil.

Tree-clearing has begun in the 1985 photo, in a typical herringbone pattern fanning out from roads and rivers.

By 1992 it is much more advanced and the town in the centre of the image has grown.

Photo: Images courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
The images show the progression of deforestation in Rondonia, southern Brazil.
Tree-clearing has begun in the 1985 photo, in a typical herringbone pattern fanning out from roads and rivers.
By 1992 it is much more advanced and the town in the centre of the image has grown.
The new Environment Minister, Marina da Silva, who has long campaigned to protect the Amazon, has promised to action but she inherits a difficult situation, says the BBC's Sao Paulo correspondent Tom Gibb.
On the one hand, the country has a new multi-million dollar satellite and radar monitoring system providing plenty of accurate data as to where deforestation is occurring.
But budget cuts on the ground mean that environmental protection agents often do not even have enough money to buy petrol for their boats and cars, let alone mount operations to arrest illegal loggers and farmers, our correspondent says.
Likewise, loopholes and corruption in Brazil's chaotic judicial system mean those caught destroying the forest almost always go unpunished.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and is home to 30% of all animal and plant life on the planet.
In the last 15 years, 243,000 square kilometres have been deforested, the equivalent of 5% of the Brazilian Amazon.
25 June, 2001
Amazon forest 'could vanish fast'
Amazon otter on log 

The giant Amazon otter is one species that depends on the forest

Photo:BBC
The giant Amazon otter is one species that depends on the forest
By BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby
The destruction of the Amazon rainforest could be irreversible within a decade, according to a US scientist.
James Alcock, of Pennsylvania State University, says the forest could virtually disappear within half a century.
His estimate of the possible rate of destruction is faster than most others and Mr Alcock, professor of environmental sciences at Penn State's Abington College, says the danger lies in a complex feedback process.
Research published in the journal Science earlier this year suggesting that deforestation rates in the Amazon could reach 42% by 2020 were based on unreliable facts and "ecological futurology", Brazil's science and technology ministry said.
Point of no return
But Professor Alcock's forecast, based on a mathematical model of human-driven deforestation, is starker still.
Without immediate and forceful action to change current agricultural, mining and logging practices, he says, the forest could pass the point of no return in 10 to 15 years.
Boat on Amazon — Photo: BBC
Human pressures on the forest are growing
And the model indicates that the forest, far from having 75 or 100 years to reach total collapse as other researchers predict, could essentially disappear within 40 or 50 years.
Professor Alcock is presenting his findings at a conference in Scotland being held jointly by the Geology Societies of America and London.
He hopes to develop his research with fieldwork in the Amazon, although he argues that his model is also a useful predictor of what could happen in the other great tropical forest systems, in south east Asia and the Congo river basin in Africa.
Professor Alcock, who says the size of the Amazon river basin has already been reduced by about 25%, believes the threat lies in a process known as evapotranspiration, in which the rain that falls on a forest is retained and then returned to the atmosphere.
But without a healthy vegetation base, he says, there is little to stop the water running off, and this creates the potential for a highly unstable forest system.
Risks are close
"Because of the way tropical rainforests work, they are dependent on trees to return water to the air", he said.
"This interdependence of climate and forest means risks to the forests are much closer at hand than we might expect.
"It's a very difficult problem because of several pressures. For example, you can't say: 'Leave the rainforests alone' when people are living in poverty."
Deforested land — Photo: BBC
Forest loss leaves little in its wake
Professor Alcock says plans to preserve small areas of forest would probably not work, because damage to the overall system would limit the rain necessary for their survival.
Less rain falling on the forest could also increase the likelihood of fires.
Another consequence he foresees is the extinction of many creatures that depend on the forest for survival.
Professor Alcock said: "There are already a large number of species that are endangered, because the forest itself is endangered.
Estimates 'exaggerated'
"We might be able to keep a few animals at the zoos, but we'd surely lose a lot of amphibians, reptiles and insects."
However, Philip Stott, professor of biogeography at the University of London, UK, told BBC News Online: "This model sounds to me to be highly simplistic in political, economic and ecological terms.
"Many scientists believe that deforestation estimates are greatly exaggerated, and that in the Amazon 87% may still be intact — perhaps more.
"There's always a lot of secondary regeneration, and you'd have to take that into account in any modelling."
 
15 May, 2001
Amazon destruction surges
Workers in the Amazon
Workers in the Amazon
The destruction of Brazil's Amazon rainforest jumped to a five-year high last year, alarming environmentalists and embarrassing the Brazilian Government.
The government had hoped that forest clearance was decreasing, but satellite images analysed by its Space Research Institute reveal that between 1999 and 2000, almost 20,000 sq km were cleared.
This creates a hole about the size of Belgium, and is a 15% increase on the previous year.
The secretary for Amazon affairs for the Environmental Ministry, Mary Allegretti, blamed the increased deforestation on an improved economic climate.
Demand for land
Rainforest destruction
Rainforest destruction
If the Amazon disappears, much of the planet's wildlife will lose its habitat
An unexpectedly healthy recovery from Brazil's recession, following the devaluation of its currency in January 1999, sparked more demand for timber and land.
Ms Allegretti said the rain forest was cut down by logging companies and farmers in search of land.
Independent research institutes forecast that if the government continues with its road building and farming programmes in the Amazon region, up to 40% of the total rainforest will be destroyed within 20 years.
Environmentalists say action needs to be taken to reverse the unsustainable destruction of the Amazon, which is home to up to 30% of the world's animal and plant life.
"The beginning of the new millennium could not have been worse for the Amazon, the figures are worrying if we look to the future," said the World Wildlife Fund in a statement.
Ms Allegretti said the government would introduce a licensing system for properties where deforestation was worst.
Government action
Brazilian police chase landless rural workers in the Amazon city of Belem, north of San Paulo
Brazilian police chase landless rural workers in the Amazon city of Belem, north of San Paulo
Brazilian police clash with the Landless Rural Workers movement
But our correspondent Jan Rocha says that within the next two weeks a controversial bill which would allow Amazon farmers to legally clear much greater areas of forest will be debated in Congress.
The bill is supported by farmers and opposed by environmentalists, she says.
The government is also considering building more energy plants in the area, as the country is suffering from a chronic energy shortage.
In 1970, about 99% of the Amazon, which is sometimes termed the "lungs of the planet", due to the huge amounts of oxygen produced by its trees, was still standing.
WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tom Gibb
"Despite tough laws, illegal logging has continued"



SEE ALSO:
Brazil's unsustainable Amazon scheme
14 Aug 02 | Americas
Brazil's rainforest slaves
30 Jul 02 | Crossing Continents
Brazil spies on Amazon loggers
25 Jul 02 | Americas
Amazon destruction rate 'falls'
12 Jun 02 | Americas
In 2001, for example, IBAMA (the Brazilian Environmental Agency) issued authorisation documents for deforestation of 5,342 hectares, but the total deforestation showed by satellite images from INPE (the Brazilian Institute of Space Research) reveals that 523,700 hectares were deforested.
In other words, in 2001 just 1% of the total deforestation area was authorized.
Previous years' data is similar.
Monday, 4 March, 2002
Mexico's 'devastating' forest loss
By Nick Miles
BBC Central America and Caribbean correspondent
Lacandon jungle

Scars on Mexico's forests can be seen from the air
Scars on Mexico's forests can be seen from the air
Deforestation — which environmentalists say is one of the most pressing concerns affecting the planet — will top the agenda at a United Nations meeting of environment ministers in New York on Monday.
Mexico is one of the world's worst affected countries. Depletion of forest cover is taking place twice as fast than previously thought, with more than one million hectares being lost each year.
A number of initiatives to resolve the problem — including the eviction of illegal settlers from protected forest land — have been announced by President Vicente Fox.
But environmentalists say the settlers are just a scapegoat and the government is ignoring the real problem, illegal wood cutting.
According to a recently published government report, Mexico now has the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil.
Nowhere is the deforestation worse than in the southern state of Chiapas.

The forests around the town have been devastated by small scale logging

Ryan Zinn, development worker
In the south east corner of Chiapas lies the Lacandon jungle, a million hectares of, until recently, pristine tropical forest.
It's one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet home to rare parrots, jaguars and hundreds of species of hardwood trees.
From the air the damage caused by logging and illegal farming settlements is plain to see. The light coloured maize fields form a patchwork amongst the bottle green expanse of tropical forest.
"The farmers here have no right to the land, it is a reserve," state government forestry advisor Hernan Alfonzo told me as we come in to land at a small airstrip cut out of the jungle
"It's not just the land they grow crops on that's lost," he said. "Thousands of hectares of forest go up in smoke every year as the fires they light to clear their land rage out of control."
Suspicion
Parrot
The jungle is in an area of high biodiversity
Landing at the hamlet of San Gregorio we are greeted with understandable suspicion by the inhabitants.
San Gregorio is home to 50 families.
Until 20 years ago they were farm labourers working in the north of the state, but they lost their jobs when much of the area was turned over to cattle raising and their labour was no longer needed.
"The people here are threatened by the government with eviction all the time," said Antonio Jimenez, who heads an organisation representing the forest farmers.
"They literally have nowhere else to go, and they don't create the environmental havoc the government says they do, they protect the environment, it's in their interests to do so," he added.
The claim is backed up by environmentalists working in the area.
"The farmers here are cultivating in a sustainable way," said botanist Miguel Angel Garcia.
"They no longer need to destroy more and more of the forest because their fields remain productive."
'Smokescreen'
There is a growing body of opinion that the government's focus on removing the settlers from their land is simply a smokescreen deflecting attention from the widespread illegal logging going on across the country.
Development worker Ryan Zinn working near the town of San Cristobal has been studying the problem.
"The forests around the town have been devastated by small scale logging concessions," he told me, as we stood in a recently cut area of the forest.
"The municipal governments hand out permits illegally to local consortia.
In many cases what we see are not huge logging companies but the middle men of the intermediaries who are causing much of the deforestation," Mr Zinn said.
Huge task
It's a problem the federal government acknowledges.
"We're working to bring an end to the corruption," said Hernan Alfonzo.
"Corruption has been endemic amongst officials because of the low salaries of the inspectors and the big profits to be made.
Logs

Illegal logging is on the increase
Illegal logging is on the increase
"We're now putting in place teams of new inspectors to check all the wood leaving the state," he added.
This, however is a massive task. The agency has just a hundred inspectors having to cover an area of about a hundred thousand square miles.
Even if the will to protect the environment in this part of southern Mexico is there, the finance to bring about change is lagging far behind.
See also:

Less than three decades
Less than three decades.

Environment pollution of cities and countryside.

Images: http://na.unep.net/

Devastating UN report showing explosive urban sprawl, major deforestation and the sucking dry of inland seas over less than three decades.
The destruction of swathes of mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca off Honduras to make way for extensive shrimp farms shows up clearly.
The atlas makes the point that not only has it left the estuary bereft of the natural coastal defence provided by the mangroves, but the shrimp themselves have been linked to pollution and widespread damage to the area's eco-system.
"These illustrate some of the changes we have made to our environment," Kaveh Zahedi UN expert.
"Cities pull in huge amounts of resources including water, food, timber, metals and people.   They export large amounts of wastes including household and industrial wastes, wastewater and the gases linked with global warming," UN Environment Programme chief Klaus Toepfer.
"Thus their impacts stretch beyond their physical borders affecting countries, regions and the planet as a whole."
       U.N. Website to download posters      
Typhoon Wipha
Keelung, Taiwan
KENYA — 22 February, 2005
Nearly five years ago, the government imposed a ban on logging in order to curb deforestation and to conserve the country's major water catchment areas.
Despite that the Kenyan government says it remains alarmed at the rate at which the country's forest cover is being depleted.
More than 90% of the original national forest cover has now been lost.
Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka bluntly warns: "Unless we rapidly improve our forest cover and our management we will face a national disaster."
Warning to the world

Hurricane Wilma

Photo: CBS/AP
Warning to the world — Hurricane Wilma
Friday, 30 August, 2002
Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest
Deforested area of Tesso Nilo
Vast tracts of the forest have been destroyed
Richard Galpin
By Richard Galpin
BBC correspondent in Jakarta
The Indonesian island of Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and once boasted some of the most extensive and richest areas of tropical rainforest anywhere on the planet — but no longer.
It is estimated 60% of the total forest cover has been destroyed over the past 100 years, with the rate of destruction increasing rapidly in the 1970s and 80s under the authoritarian regime of former President Suharto.
His government was particularly keen on dividing up vast areas of the country's forests into concessions given to powerful businessmen to log and convert into rubber and palm-oil plantations.

Every day up to 350 lorries have been travelling along this road. I believe 100 of them contain illegal logs from Tesso Nilo

WWF official
This along with the resettlement of millions of people from over-crowded Java to islands such as Sumatra and Borneo, all of whom needed land to farm, saw deforestation reach unprecedented levels.
Today it is estimated around two million hectares (five million acres) of Indonesian forest are lost every year — an area equivalent to the size of Belgium.
And the majority of the logging is believed to be illegal.
Race against time
In Sumatra environmentalists are now fighting a desperate battle to save the last substantial part of the lowland forest still standing.
Sumatran tiger and cub
Sumatran tigers are under threat
The forest in Riau province is called Tesso Nilo and organisations such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) believe it is critical it is turned into a special conservation area.
"This lowland forest is the prime habitat of the Sumatran tiger, elephants and other important species," said Nazir Foead of WWF Indonesia.
"If Tesso Nilo forest goes, then the chances of survival for these endangered species will be very, very slim."
Unparalleled diversity
On top of this, recent research commissioned by WWF discovered that Tesso Nilo has the highest level of biodiversity on earth.
Scientists found more than 200 vascular plant species in just 200 square metres of forest — far more even than in the Amazon.

I will not ask my people to stop the logging. I will tell them to carry on, as long as these companies are getting our wood, then why should we stop?

Village chief Mohammed Hatta
But time is fast running out for the world's richest forest which presently occupies an area of just 1,500 square kilometres (579 square miles).
If the current rate of logging continues, it will have disappeared within the next four years.
Driving into the area it is easy to see why. A major road has been built through the forest making it easy to access the timber.
Every few minutes lorries laden with logs groan along the road belching diesel fumes into the atmosphere.
"Every day up to 350 lorries have been travelling along this road," said one WWF official who has been monitoring the logging here.
"I believe 100 of them contain illegal logs from Tesso Nilo."
Easy money
We drove further into the forest and soon could hear the sound of chainsaws in the distance.
The illegal loggers are a mixture of local villagers and gangs of people who have come from further afield, generally from other provinces in Sumatra.
What they have in common is poverty. The case of Kamarudin, a local villager, is typical. We followed him as he slashed his way deep into the forest, with his chainsaw balanced on his shoulder.
Logging truck
A constant stream of trucks take the trees for pulping
It did not take him long to find what he wanted — a large tropical hardwood tree called Meranti. The tree, which took decades to grow, came crashing to the ground within a couple of minutes.
"Chopping down trees like this hardwood Meranti, I can earn $60 a week," he said. "Much more than the rubber plantation where I used to work where the money wasn't enough to feed my family."
Local anger
We went back to Kamarudin's village in the middle of the forest — a desperately poor area.
More and more villagers have been turning to illegal logging over the last five years since the Asian economic crisis hit Indonesia.
According to the village head, Mohammed Hatta, it will not be long before more than half the families here are involved in chopping down wood.
Mr Hatta is actively encouraging this because he believes his people have the right to do so, as he says the land is theirs.
Such a direct challenge to the authorities would have been unthinkable under the repressive regime of former President Suharto. But since the advent of democracy in 1998 local communities have been asserting themselves much more.
Mr Hatta is angry that over the years the government has given the rights to the whole of Tesso Nilo forest to several logging and plantation companies.
"I will not ask my people to stop the logging," he said, "I will tell them to carry on, as long as these companies are getting our wood, then why should we stop?"
Indonesian logger
The loggers are driven by poverty
Massive operation
The scale of the main forestry industries in the area is breath-taking. We visited the Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper company (RAPP) on the outskirts of the forest, one of two such businesses based in the province.
It is a huge, hi-tech industrial complex housing the world's largest pulp mill. It produces almost two million tons of pulp every year, consuming eight million tons of wood in the process.
It is a non-stop operation. The mill operates 24-hours a day, with a never-ending convoy of trucks arriving at the factory to supply the wood.
Back in 1993 the government gave RAAP a concession of around 3,000 sq km which it could log and then re-plant with acacia trees.
Part of this concession lies within the Tesso Nilo forest itself.
No guarantees
A spokesman for the company told the BBC the forest it was given to convert to acacia plantations was already degraded — in other words had already been substantially logged.
But WWF says this is wrong, "RAPP is chopping down primary rain-forest," said Mr Foead.
The company is trying to promote itself as environment-friendly because it says within six years it will have planted enough acacia trees to provide a sustainable source of wood for the pulp mill.
Ironically it can only do this by first destroying swathes of Sumatran rain-forest.
Environmentalists also believe illegal logs from Tesso Nilo are being sold to RAPP. The capacity of the mill is so huge that around one-fifth of the wood supply is provided by outside contractors.
The company says there are stringent checks on the sources of logs provided by these contractors, but admits it cannot guarantee all the wood is legal.
WWF remains optimistic it can save Tesso Nilo from the loggers by persuading the government to turn it into a national park. But it will be an uphill struggle.
Indonesia's Forestry Minister Mohammad Prakosa told the BBC he could not simply revoke the licences given to the companies which had been given the right to log the area.
And even if Tesso Nilo did become a national park, it would still not be safe from the illegal loggers.
The experience in Indonesia's other national parks has been that illegal logging has continued unabated as law enforcement across the country is so weak, not least because the police and other officials are notoriously corrupt.
Empty water reservoir
Ladakh
Between Kun lun mountain range and the Great Himalayas
Tomsk State University — 11 August, 2005 — researcher Sergei Kirpotin
All happened in the last three or four years
The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.
This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

More than 90% of the original national forest cover has now been lost.
The situation is an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming," researcher Sergei Kirpotin, of Tomsk State University, Russia, told New Scientist magazine.
The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw, he added, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".
       Siberia, Alaska      
       Dramatic permafrost melt — click here      
Empty water reservoir
Ladakh
Between Kun lun mountain range and the Great Himalayas
Tomsk State University — 11 August, 2005 — researcher Sergei Kirpotin
All happened in the last three or four years
The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.
This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.
More than 90% of the original national forest cover has now been lost.
The situation is an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming," researcher Sergei Kirpotin, of Tomsk State University, Russia, told New Scientist magazine.
The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw, he added, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".
       Siberia, Alaska      
       Dramatic permafrost melt — click here      
Friday, 23 August, 2002
Indonesia risks losing rain forests
logs on a trailer
The loss of forest also destroys wildlife habitat
Deforestation across the world is still of grave concern to environmentalists.
They warn that rain forests in countries such as Indonesia and Brazil could disappear within 20 years.
Illegal logging is a particular problem in Indonesia, according to Marco Tacconi, an economist at the Centre for International Forestry Research.
He blamed illegal logging primarily not on poverty, but corruption.
It is estimated that two-thirds of all logging in Indonesia is illegal.
Mr Tacconi maintained that people who lived in the forests did not have the financial resources to carryout such an activity.
Indonesian rainforests
Indonesia has about 10% of the world's remaining tropical forests — second only to Brazil
Forest cover fell from 162m ha (400,300,000 acres) in 1950 to 98m ha (242,200,000 acres) in 2000
Nearly 2m ha (4,942,000 acres) are now being destroyed every year
Sources: World Resources Institute, Global Forest Watch, Indonesia
Laws flouted
There are laws against illegal logging but they have little impact.
While the government has introduced curbs on exports, these are believed to have had little effect because much of the timber illegally collected is used domestically.
Mr Tacconi has never heard of anyone being jailed following the prosecution of people caught transporting or exporting logs.
"Everybody knows that the law enforcement is very weak," he said.
The Indonesian government's senior economic policy adviser, Mahendra Singer, admitted the legal process to prosecute the illegal loggers needed to improve.
"I'm not trying to give an excuse," he told the BBC's World Business Report.
"We have to understand the experience as well as the constraints and limitations that the present legal system can do."
He admitted that the government was only just beginning to pass laws which deterred illegal logging.

SPECIAL REPORT
See also:

Pygmy Elephants and Palm Oil Threat
The only hope for these elephants now is protection of the lowland forest as nature reserves or sustainably managed logging concessions.
Forests are being burned and peat wetlands drained for plantations, causing huge releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Land clearances in Indonesia to meet the growing global demand for palm oil pose a serious threat to the environment.
Gorillas, orangutans, and corals are among the plants and animals which are sliding closer to extinction.
     Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest       
     Deforestation illegal logging primarily not because of poverty but corruption     
      Destruction of rainforest Indonesia Riau province     
Extreme drought in Amazon rainforest linked to deforestation and climate change
The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.
Brazilian officials praised the scientists for highlighting the issue of selective logging, but said the new figures were hard to believe.
     Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest       
     Deforestation across the world     
       Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed    
 
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