Forests of Brazil
Solutions for Brazils forests
The Brazilian forests are home to both animals, plants and the native Indian people whose livelihood depends on the natural resources and who have the right to use such resources in a sustainable manner. Realistic goals should be pursued. For example a minimum of 25 per cent of the rainforest could be protected within nature reserves by the year 2005 if there was the will.
Tourism in the Amazon rainforest has attracted tourists around the world. Local guides are hired by tourists to learn about the rainforest whilst visiting remote villages where the local people sell their handicrafts. Ecotourism has created hundreds of jobs for local residents who benefit from the profit and are less compelled to practice illegal logging, clearing and burning of the forest.
Products from the forest that do not require cutting down trees, such as nuts, rubber, and herbs can provide a living without destroying the forests. Gums, oils, resins, tannins, insecticides, dyes, and waxes are derived from the forest. One quarter of the world's medicines come from tropical forest products. For example the dried bark of the Cinchorra tree used by natives as a cure for fever is used effectively to treat malaria. Muscle relaxants, steroids and drugs for cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzhiemers disease are found in various plants of the Amazon rainforest.
Other forest products include the acai fruit, babacu nut, hearts of palm and yerba mate (leaves are used to make tea) and piacava fibre (used to make brooms and cords). Cohune and Tagua nuts are a renewable source and are used to make crafts such as carved jewellery and carved ornaments.
The startling high rate of deforestation clearly shows that there is a need for the Brazilian government to take immediate action to put a stop to the deforestation of the Amazon. The Brazilian government must provide a stable and committed rainforest conservation policy instead of promising reduced rates of deforestation each year. Recent polling for changes to the forest codes in Brazil would allow deforestation of up to 50% of private properties in the Amazon. These changes must be resisted by the government who are under pressure from farmers to increase the amount of forest that can be legally cut.
The Rubber Tapper Council and rural Unions in the Brazilian State of Acre has been successful in saving some areas of forest from logging. In the 1980s they formed the Alliance of Forests People (Os Povos Da Floresta) to demand the government respect the way of life, cultures and traditions of forest peoples and protect the forest.
They asked the government to: allow public scrutiny of development proposals; halt projects that damage the environment; require large projects to be subject to discussion in Congress, with the participation of the organisations that represent those people affected by these projects; grant land titles to the forest users; set up cooperatives to help maintain prices for forest products and explore new markets for forest products such as natural rubber; and provide the communities with social services for education and health.
The key to their success has been because the separate groups have been able to organise into unions and strategic partnerships to engage politicians in debate towards reform. Indigenous people and their homes need protection. The loss of their culture is intimately linked with the process of deforestation.