August 2, 2008

Brazil Starts Rain Forest Protection Fund

Brazil is soliciting $21 billion in international donations to finance its efforts to protect the Amazon rain forest, government leaders say.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who announced the conservation effort in Rio de Janeiro, said Brazil understands the rain forest's impact on the global environment, Mercopress reported Saturday.

It's better for the country's image to do things right, so we can walk in international forums with our heads high, he said.

Brazil would use the $21 billion it hopes to raise by 2021 to promote conservation, sustainable development and other alternatives to clear-cutting forestry practices in the Amazon, and to support conservation and sustainable development

Brazilian Strategic Affairs Minister Roberto Mangabeira Unger cautioned, however, the environmental fund will be a way for foreign governments to support Brazil's initiatives without exerting any influence over our national policy.

We are not going to trade sovereignty for money, he said.

Sixty-five percent of the Amazon Basin's 1.4 billion acres are in Brazil.

The environmental group Greenpeace said it was the first time Brazil had tied global warming to preserving the rain forest.