Economic Development and Environmental Protection in Latin America

By Joseph S. Tulchin | Go to book overview

Discussion

A question about the potential for economic growth and development in the Amazon drew responses from all of the panelists. Marc Dourojeanni began by explaining that, aside from the agricultural and forestry possibilities, the Amazon also offers minerals and energy, which have yet to be exploited.In fact, agricultural land comprises only a small part of the territory. Land use is necessary so there will be continued deforestation.

Tadeu Valadares highlighted the vast diversity of the Amazon.There are 60,000 species of plants, 2.5 million species of anthropods, 2,000 fish species, 3,000 species of mammals, and 11 percent of Earth's bird life. Of this vast total, only 5,000 species have been biologically classified. Little is known about the Amazon, he said; more than 75 percent of the Amazon has not even been visited by scientists.The region has enormous wealth, and man has discovered perhaps only a tenth of its true potential.

John Browder stated that access to markets is the most severe problem; but building more roads is not the answer because, while necessary, they create conditions for the destruction of the forest. Kari Keipi also discussed the issue of access and use.He noted that in many European countries, the Green parties are working to prohibit the use of tropical timber.In West Germany, for example, tropical timber cannot be used in the construction of public buildings. Keipi identified a contradiction in the goals being considered during the program.He suggested that trying to increase the value of the forest in order to manage it is at cross purposes with usage bans. There is, therefore, a need to determine whether the forest is to be preserved or used rationally.

Valadares was then asked to identify the steps taken by the Brazilian government to reduce deforestation in 1989, how much more they hope to accomplish, and what further steps are being considered.He said that the Brazilian government has suspended fiscal incentives and official

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