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Forest-saving Project Presented at Copenhagen Talks

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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was to present a forest-saving project in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

The three-year project, which is to be launched in 2010 through financing from Brazil's Amazon Fund, was designed to legalize farms of 18 million hectares in Mato Grosso and Para states so as to control deforestation.

Figures from the Brazilian National Committee show that the total agricultural area in the country is about 50 million hectares with a potential to cultivate another 60 million hectares which can be used for rain-fed agriculture.

TNC will receive 16 million reais (US$9.1 million) from the Amazon Fund and will invest an additional 3 million reais (US$1.7 million) to work in the central western and northern states which suffered the highest deforestation rates in the Amazon region.

In Brazil, farms must have a legal reserve, a rule that may date back to the 1930s. However, few farms in the country are observing it.

Things have changed today as the Brazilian government has ordered farm owners to delimit their legal reserves in three years.

"Nowadays, it is clear that preservation is part of development," said Ana Cristina Barros, a TNC representative in Brazil, in an interview with Xinhua.

Farmers who do not settle their situation until 2011 will be punished with daily fines of up to 500 reais (US$285) per hectare for illegal deforestation, Barros said.

Last week, the Brazilian Development Bank announced a release of 40 million dollars for the first five environment-related projects to be financed with resources from the Amazon Fund.

Created in 2008, the fund received US$110 million from Norway, which will deliver US$1 billion by 2016, while Germany has pledged 18 million euros until March 2010.

The initiatives include actions to reduce deforestation, support for land regularization and land reclamation.

(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2009)