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Brazil pressed not to fell rainforests

Brazil pressed not to fell rainforests
LONDON - Environmentalists battling to save the Amazon rainforest said yesterday that Brazil should be encouraged not to cut down trees by being offered a system of rewards.
Supported by new findings, ecologists are to present a major new action plan aimed at saving one of the world\'s most precious natural resources from extinction. The plan will be put forward to South American government representatives meeting in London yesterday. Roberto Smeraldi, Amazon director of Friends of the Earth, told Reuters that under the plan, Brazil should be compensated for not felling its forests. \"There is no alternative,\" he said. He called for crop diversification and more productive cattle ranching in the short term. Research has suggested unchecked greenhouse gas emissions could spell an end to the rainforests and lead to extreme weather phenomena such as that produced by the El Nino effect. Brazil is planning huge transport and hydroelectric schemes over the next five years. But ecologists warned that that planned dams could mean flooding an area of rainforest equivalent to half the size of Britain. Over the next two decades, Brazil\'s development programmes could devour more than 40 percent of the rainforest, the plan says in a contribution from Bill Laurance from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Amazonia accounts for much more of the world\'s rainfall than previously supposed, recent research shows, and ecologists fear that deforestation will threaten the world\'s water supply. Studies have suggested that the Amazon rainforest may be soaking up carbon dioxide belched out by industry. The forest could mop up as much as eight percent of man\'s annual emissions. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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