Why only the Amazonians can save the rainforest
11th May, 2010
'Saving the rainforest' has been a battle-cry of the environmental movement since its inception. But just what does that mean, how does it work, and who exactly does the 'saving'?
The Amazon rainforest is the greatest of its kind on Earth, covering five and a half million of the Amazon Basin’s seven million square kilometres. It is the archetypal wilderness, a land criss-crossed by waterways originating in the Andes and extending as life-giving capillaries through primordial forests. It is home to 10 per cent of all species in existence. It is also under siege.
According to some estimations, the majority of the world’s tropical rainforest will be gone by 2050. In Brazil, which contains 60 per cent of the Amazon, 90 per cent of deforestation is illegal encroachment caused by poorly enforced, unclear, overlapping and often dubious land entitlements.
One widely discussed approach to tackling the problem is the UN REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme, under which financial rewards are given by industrialised countries to their less industrialised counterparts for not cutting down their forests. In theory it's a good idea, but some REDD schemes have been criticised for lacking proper monitoring and enforcement, and inadequately...
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