Along the Amazon by qingyunliuliu


									Along the Amazon

    On a ramshackle riverboat in a tributary of the

Amazon, a simple and compelling case is made for the world

to pay up for protecting the rainforest:

    “We are preserving the forests here. Over there, they

finished off theirs and now don’t have what we do. They

need for us to protect our trees to absorb carbon dioxide

and put oxygen into the air. So I think we deserve

something in return. If they have the resources, if they

want to help us preserve all this, this would be an

intelligent thing to do.”

    José Monteiro, 40, fisherman and farmer, sits on the

gunwale of his wooden boat as tea-colored waters of the

Uatumã River lap against its sides. He speaks softly,

without stridency, and watches to see what I think.

    I think he is right.

    This argument circulates with increasing resonance

around international conference halls and diplomatic

circuits, from the G8 + 5 to the United Nations. Out here
on the front line, from people whose livelihoods hang in

the balance, it is no abstract negotiating stance.

    Monteiro’s view applies to environmental hotspots

everywhere, from depleted fisheries off Somalia to

spreading deserts in Darfur; from Indian villagers

offsetting dead-end poverty with tiger poaching; to slum-

dwellers in Honduras felling another bit of rainforest to

build shacks liable to wash away in a mudslide.

    The world is starting to fathom the cost of

environmental loss, whether directly through climate change

(tropical deforestation is estimated to account for a fifth

of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions) or indirectly

through instability and waves of refugees. But if local

people cannot see benefits from the healthy ecosystems we

all need, no amount of hand-wringing in the comfortable

North will make them choose long-term sustainability over

the immediate need to feed their kids.

    That is the reality of the Amazon.

                   #              #

    Monteiro is spokesman for one of 20 small communities

in the Uatumã Sustainable Development Reserve, an area

larger than Rhode Island, with a population of some 1,200.

Each community is reached only by boat. The nearest is more

than an hour from the market town, Itapiranga, in turn a

five-hour drive from the state capital, Manaus. By Amazon

standards, it is accessible – and therein lays the problem.
    I visited Uatumã when the Amazon and its tributaries

were at their highest flood levels for more than half a

century. Hundreds of thousands were forced from their

homes. Just four years ago, it was opposite: the Amazon

fell to the lowest level in memory, leaving riverside

communities literally high and dry. While neither event is

linked definitively to climate change, both show how this

ecosystem stands to suffer from, and contribute to, shifts

in the global environment.

    On the trip from Itapiranga, the flood creates a

surreal water wonderland. We weave through impossibly

intricate shortcuts across inundated forest. Every

conceivable shade of green is reflected in the glassy

water, broken occasionally by a surfacing river dolphin or

a manatee feeding in clumps of aquatic grass.

    As we move into more open water, I take the wheel. I’m

warned not to hug the banks for fear of fouling the

propeller on the treetops; astonishingly, we are cruising

above the forest canopy, with the crowns of mighty giants

poking through the surface.

    Although the level is exceptional, the flooding of

these forests is an entirely normal annual event. In this

dark-water section of the Amazon basin, with high levels of

dissolved humic acid, the flood-forests are known as

igarapés, and as you navigate them you realize how

intimately the aquatic and terrestrial environments come
together. This is a place where fish eat fruit and disperse

seeds as birds do in other forests.

    A sign on the bank announces our arrival in the Uatumã

reserve, and soon we see the simple blue wooden huts of

Nossa Senhora do Livramento (Our Lady of the Deliverance).

A gaggle of kids gathers to fix us with the open-mouthed

stares of isolated villagers. When we ask for “Seu José”,

four of them jump in to guide us to where he is fishing.

    These are not indigenous villages. The range of dark-

skinned, green-eyed, and even blond features among the

kids, squealing with delight in the back of the boat,

reveals the ethnic mix in most of the Amazon. It is common

here, as in the rest of Brazil, to see traits of four

continents etched into a single face.

    Those not familiar with the Amazon tend to see it in

simple, polarized terms: on one hand, a pristine wilderness

of animals and exotic Indians with painted bodies, and on

the other, malevolent ranchers of European extraction

burning all in their path.

    The real picture, as always, is far more complicated.

A great majority of inhabitants (and here’s a fact that

jolts outsiders: there are 25 million) comes from Brazil’s

melting pot, with more Amerindian features than elsewhere

in this continent-sized nation. They reflect complex,

chaotic settlement in the world’s largest rainforest.
    Recent archaeology questions the belief that the pre-

Columbian Amazon was an untouched Eden of only nomadic

hunters before the Portuguese came in 1500. At a number of

places along major waterways – Uatumã included – apparently

virgin forests are found growing in fertile, charcoal-rich

soil known as terra preta (black earth). While exact

origins are disputed, this is increasingly accepted to be

evidence of human settlement and cultivation over many

generations, made up of organic detritus either discarded

or laid down deliberately to fertilize poor Amazon soils.

    Archaeologists such as Professor Eduardo Neves of the

University of São Paulo argue that parts of the pre-

“discovery” Amazon basin were rather densely populated,

including agricultural settlements of hundreds or even

thousands. What happened to these cultures is unclear, but

some speculate that diseases brought by the Europeans wiped

them out before there was significant colonization,

scattering remaining indigenous groups into the isolated

communities found more recently.

    Implications of this revised pre-history are

controversial. Some argue that since large areas were

deforested in the past, there is nothing so new about what

is happening now. A more mainstream view is that there is

no comparison between the ancient settlements and

devastation we now see – but that a managed Amazon has been

capable of sustaining sizeable human populations (up to
five million in the early 16th century, according to Neves)

with no threat to its overall integrity.

     Some “traditional communities” of today’s Amazon

originate from the 19th-century rubber boom when poor

migrants from Brazil’s Northeast, themselves a mixture of

African and European descent, braved appalling conditions

to tap latex sap from the heart of the Amazon. Many married

indigenous women. Resulting communities make their livings

from small-scale farming, fishing, nut gathering, timber

cutting, or the production of manioc flour.

      Brazil’s military government in the 1970s sowed the

seeds of trouble. Generals saw the vast “empty” green

wilderness as a security threat. Two slogans foreshadowed

what was to follow: integrar para não entregar (literally,

“integrate to avoid handing it over” – or more loosely,

“use it or lose it”) and uma terra sem povo para um povo

sem terra (“a land without people for a people without

land”). They cut highways through impenetrable forest and

resettled hundreds of thousands of dispossessed peasants

from the agricultural south. This began a process that has

since carved a Texas-sized chunk out of the Amazon.

              #                   #

     At first sight, Amazonas state, where Uatumã is

located, hardly seems like the front line. In the

northwestern part of the Brazilian Amazon, it does not

include the “arc of deforestation,” where agriculture has
eaten away mercilessly at the forest to the south and east.

The rainforest as a whole is estimated to have lost about

18 percent of its original extent, mostly within the past

40 years. In Amazonas, the figure is closer to 2 percent.

    For scale, think of this: Amazonas is about the size

of France, Spain, and Germany combined. And 98 percent of

it is forest. Yet a sobering future is seen in computer

modeling of future destruction if past patterns of road

building, settlement, and exploitation continue. These

projections, called SimAmazonia, were published in the

journal Nature in 2006. They show a relentless advance

west and north into Amazonas, with the dark-green of intact

forest shrinking to an ever-smaller core. According to this

model, the verdant banks and flood-forests of the Uatumã

will have barely a tree left standing by 2050.

    In Uatumã you don’t need computer models to see the

threat. In the 1980s, the river, normally up to three miles

across, was reduced to a trickle by the Balbina dam, built

upstream to provide power for Manaus. It ranks among the

world’s worst ill-considered hydroelectric projects,

flooding 2,360 square kilometers of rainforest (the size of

Luxembourg) to provide 250 megawatts of power. Taking into

account methane and carbon dioxide from rotting vegetation,

its impact on climate change per unit of electricity is far

greater than the dirtiest coal-fired power station.
    Once the huge reservoir behind Balbina was full, the

flow returned, but with a poorer variety of fish life. The

natural flood cycle was disrupted, depriving forest soils

of nutrients. For years afterwards, the Brazil-nut harvest

was a fraction of its normal productivity. This is yet

another example of how water and biodiversity interact.

    The river is now able to sustain local livelihoods for

at least part of the year, as I found when I caught up with

Monteiro. In a small wooden boat, he and some neighbors in

broad-brimmed straw hats were pulling up nets laid to trap

schools of matrinxã, a small migratory fish that arrives in

flood season to feed on seeds and fruits.

    As we moved onto the larger riverboat, Monteiro

explained that communities within the reserve are allowed

to fish commercially for matrinxã for three months of the

year. They must stick to a quota so the seasonally abundant

stock is not hammered, but sales bring in decent returns

for that part of the year.

    “For those three months we have a pretty good income,”

Monteiro said. “The problem is it is only for three

months.” With a wistful smile, he added, “If it were for

the whole year . . .” For the other nine months, fish can

be caught for subsistence but can’t be sold.

    The fishermen understand. “We agree that the fish need

time to breed, to multiply,” Monteiro said. “In other
months we have other species, but they have been pretty

much finished off in the reserve.”

    I noticed Monteiro’s light-blue sweatshirt bore the

emblem of a turtle conservation project. It seemed

incongruous: this down-to-earth smallholder and fisherman,

with his swarthy features and pockmarked face, did not fit

the profile of your typical tree-hugger. But he was

enthusiastic about the nature reserve the state government

set up in 2004.

    “Before the reserve, parts of the river had been

practically wiped out,” he said. “Resources were going out

with none of the profits staying here. Practically no one

was earning anything from it. Only the people who came from

outside, exploited it and took away what they got.

    “You had predatory fishing all year round, hunting as

well: lots of wild animals were going out from this place.

There were some lumber companies planning to come here, not

to speak of the cattle ranchers who caused the most

deforestation to make pasture.”

    Now it is better, a sign that controls can work.

    “It didn’t stop all at once, but it has reduced a

lot,” Monteiro concluded. “Today, you have the reserve and

things are restricted more for the people who live in it.

So it was good, no doubt about it.”

              #                      #
    Under Brazil’s system of sustainable development

reserves, areas are marked out for nature protection but

with a recognition that people live there, too. The

communities can use resources of according to a management

plan drawn up with their participation.

    Uatumã was the first beneficiary of the state

government’s fund, called Bolsa Floresta (forest purse).

This echoes the Bolsa Familia (family purse), the household

safety net that is a flagship program of left-leaning

president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as just

Lula. The Bolsa Floresta is a kind of subversion of the

welfare concept. It links support for income, livelihoods,

and social amenities with the principle of payment for

“environmental services.”

    Traditional and indigenous populations, deemed

“guardians of the forest,” perform these services. In

places like the Amazon, people with an interest in keeping

the environment intact are likely to be far more effective

than declaring no-go zones, which often end up plundered

because of inadequate patrols.

    In return for protecting this extraordinary ecosystem

and adhering to rules that limit their earnings, the 265

families in Uatumã receive some cash, along with better

health and education and help in earning extra income.

     The $25 per household paid each month is hardly

generous, although in communities as poor as this it helps
pay the bills. The cash is mostly symbolic, a token of the

state’s recognition of what people are doing to safeguard

the forest. Before, they felt left out.

    The social and income-generating components are more

practical. A new school on the Uatumã banks enables older

kids to complete much more of their education near home.

Better health care is vital in this malaria-prone area. A

fleet of new water-ambulances is expected soon.

    To see this pact in action, we swapped our motor

launch for a rickety dugout canoe. A young fisherman baled

out what looked like a sunken log, assuring us it was

perfectly river-worthy. He maneuvered through the tangle of

low branches and hanging vines. There were, he told us, not

too many piranhas in these waters.

    Carlos Koury, a forest engineer from the Manaus-based

nongovernmental Amazonas Conservation and Sustainable

Development Institute (IDESAM), came along to explain how

the plan balanced conservation with decent livelihoods. He

had helped draw up the details.

    A short walk through open undergrowth led us into a

section of primary forest where larger trees were labeled

with hand-written codes. Each community is allotted 500

hectares (about 1,200 acres) for controlled logging. All

trees above 11 inches in diameter are labeled. Of 600 or so

on each hectare, a maximum of 40 to 50 can be felled this
year. At least two other smaller trees of the same species

must be left close by each harvested tree.

    The system works on a 25-year rotation. Next year,

cutting will move to a neighboring plot, using the same

criteria, and so on throughout the management area. When

the villagers come back to this section, smaller trees will

have matured, and others will be growing in their place.

    “They’ll be able to take out a considerable volume of

wood for income,” Koury said. “But they will barely alter

the landscape, the hydrological cycle, the forest’s ability

to shelter fauna. None of this will change.”

    Such managed timber is likely to get at least double

the price of wood cut “informally.” A furniture workshop

within the reserve allows people to improve their skills

and earn extra money from finished products.

    Even with each community authorized to manage 500

hectares, felling trees is permitted on less than 5 per

cent of the total reserve. Another 30 per cent is for

“extractive use” – controlled harvesting of nuts, oil-

fruits, and vines. This leaves more than 60 per cent in

which only scientific research is allowed.

    “This support for sustainable management consolidates

the value of forest products and services for the

community,” Koury told me. “Timber cutting is in a very

small area. This guarantees their income generation and

their lifestyles, and it protects the other 95 percent.”
    Actual experience is clear. People living in the

forest see little value in the intangible concept of

storing carbon. Like everyone, they want a better life.

Keeping them stuck in poverty does not help conservation.

    Koury is convinced that this approach – with outside

investment and technical help – can work across wide areas

of the Amazon. And variations of it, whether in forests,

wetlands, or deserts, offer promise across the globe.

                  #               #

    Manaus is a different world altogether, a city of two

million at the heart of the Amazon that is not quite like

anywhere else in Brazil. Its humid equatorial evenings

explode with light and life, nowhere more vibrantly than in

the square by the Teatro Amazonas. The opulent Italianate

Renaissance-style opera house was built on rubber riches

and featured in Werner Herzog’s 1982 film, Fitzcarraldo.

    The theater’s over-the-top floodlit façade of white

stucco and colonnade contrasts oddly with a dimly lit

foreground of stalls selling Amazonian fruits, mysterious

roots, tubers, and sizzling snacks that fill the warm night

air with a rich, earthy aroma. Music from a cacophony of

pirated CDs is a constantly changing soundtrack. Crowds

gather around a charismatic evangelical minister who sends

volunteers into ecstatic trances to Afro-Brazilian rhythms.

    Surrounding blocks are a paradise for bargain-hunters

seeking cheap electronic goods, giving it the feel of an
East Asian bazaar. Hundreds of shops sell everything from

computer leads to stereo systems at low prices, thanks to

Manaus’ status as a zona franca, or free-trade zone. The

generals cut duties in the 1960s to bolster the Amazon

economy and assert sovereignty over the region. The main

result, apart from bargains, has been to attract

multinational “screwdriver factories” that assemble

components free of Brazil’s notoriously high tariffs.

    The state government has introduced the Zona Franca

Verde, or green free trade zone, to lure technologies that

improve incomes from forest products. Its mastermind, who

reports to the dynamic young governor, Eduardo Braga, is

former secretary for the environment, Virgílio Viana.

    A smooth-talking academic with dark curly hair and

neat beard, Viana heads the Sustainable Amazonas

Foundation, which administers state forest incentive

programs, including the system of payments to Uatumã

through the Bolsa Floresta. He cruises the world seeking

investment to keep Amazonas forest from going the way of

those in neighboring states.

    Viana advocates using carbon-offset cash from private

companies and governments to fund sustainable communities.

In another reserve in the south of the state, livelihood

programs will receive fund from a levy that Marriot hotel

customers are asked to pay to offset their emissions.
    “This stimulus can make people see forests as more

valuable standing than cut,” Viana said. “The big challenge

ahead of us is how to make forests an attractive land use

for those people. This is nothing more than recognizing the

role that forests have for all of us.”

    He argues that rainforests provide something vital

that the world uses for free. “People are ready to pay for

electricity and for banking just because they have been

used to do that,” he said. “But they have not been used to

paying for conserving the engine that maintains processes

that are critical to us, such as rainfall. These forests

have a maintenance cost, just like a fridge or a car, and

it is not asking too much that this should be regarded as a

part of everybody’s budget.”

              #                #

    From a window seat on the flight from Manaus to

Cuiabá, the neighboring state capital (here that means

1,000 miles), you get a depressing education in the pattern

of Amazon deforestation.

    The take-off gives a stunning view of the “encontro

das águas”, the meeting of waters. The two great arms of

the Amazon, the Negro and Solimões, merge here. Dark,

acidic waters of the Negro and the light sediment-rich flow

of the Solimões run side by side for miles in the same

channel. The distinct line is clearly visible from the air.
    Crossing over the broad river channels, you soon pass

beyond the city’s reach. An expanse of green stretches to

the horizon. In this relatively untouched stretch, the

scale is striking. It seems something of a miracle to still

see nothing but treetops for mile upon mile in these days

when human influence is so pervasive.

    Occasionally, early in the journey, a road interrupts

the forest. From above, it is obvious why roads are so

strongly linked to deforestation. Rather than a strip of

roadway with trees on either side, you see a wide corridor

of cleared land where people have taken advantage of the

access to occupy and cultivate. This produces the “fishbone

effect.” Secondary roads at right angles to the highway run

deep into the forest on either side, broadening the impact.

    No wonder, then, that a Brazilian government proposal

to pave a highway between Manaus and another state capital,

Porto Velho, is seen as a potential stimulus for large-

scale deforestation. Idesam, an NGO, recently estimated

that in the worst scenario the road and its associated

deforestation could release nearly five billion tons of

carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050, the equivalent

of an entire year’s emissions by the European Union.

    For now, the 500-mile stretch earmarked for paving

remains undisturbed, from the air a mesmerizing stretch of

green. Halfway to Cuiabá, however, the world changes below.
    As you cross over into Mato Grosso state to the south,

large light patches break up the dark. Cleared areas take

up more and more landscape until forest remnants are no

more than small islets among cattle pastures and croplands.

    From here, the fictions of the Brazilian land

regulation become apparent. By law, landowners within the

“Legal Amazon” (the area judged to have been covered by the

original forest) must keep at least 80 percent of their

property in trees. It is plain from the air that in this

agricultural frontier that law is widely flouted.

    Cuiabá is at the meeting point of three great biomes,

or habitat-types. It is known as the gateway to the Amazon,

but it is in the transition zone where the rainforest meets

the drier landscape of the Cerrado, a kind of woodland

savanna. To the southwest lies the wildlife paradise of

Pantanal, the largest inland wetland on earth.

    This prosperous city is at the center of Brazil’s

agricultural heartland, where cattle and soybeans rule

supreme. Cuiabá is not the most likely location for a high-

profile conference on strategies to protect what is left of

the rainforest. However, as a sign of growing Brazilian

interest in what U.N. climate monitors call REDD mechanisms

(Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation),

experts gathered here in April 2009. An international

network, The Katoomba Group, organized the meeting. Its
host was Blairo Maggi, governor of Mato Grosso and one of

Brazil’s biggest soy farmers.

    Anyone up to speed with the demonology of global

environmentalists will be familiar with Maggi. His

outspoken defense of agricultural expansion in rainforest

areas and his contempt for attempts to hold it back have

earned him general opprobrium in green circles. Greenpeace

nominated him for a “Golden Chainsaw” award.

    Yet here was Maggi embracing the idea of “ecosystem

markets” to protect the Amazon. Looking at all the tough

ranchers and farmers in the audience, I could guess his

motive. They listened raptly to a Californian talk about

investment in Brazil from companies needing carbon credits

to meet his state’s strict targets for reducing greenhouse

gas emissions.

    Big operators in Mato Grosso see a potential for rich

returns by easing pressure on the forest. And they want

subsides to compensate Brazil if it foregoes opportunities

that industrialized countries have had to turn endangered

ecosystems in productive land.

    “The Americans converted their forests more than a

century ago, exploiting their natural resources to move

from an agricultural to an industrial economy,” Maggi told

me. “In Brazil, we have done this in the south but not in

the Amazon.”
    He said if landowners conserve all of their property

instead of just the 80 percent the law obliges, they should

be paid by industrialized countries.

    Tasso Azevedo of Brazil’s enviroment ministry agrees

with that principle. He helped design the Amazon Fund, a

government initiative to attract international donations to

protect the forest. But it stipulates that donors, whether

governments, businesses, or individuals, should contribute

only if Brazil effectively reduces deforestation.

    By mid-2009, the fund had raised only $100 million

from Norway since it began in September 2008, far short of

the billion-dollar goal for the first year. But Azevedo

said more money was in the pipeline.

    “The Amazon is providing a service that benefits

Brazilians but also people from all over the world,” he

said. “We are all in the same boat, and it is has a lot of

holes. We must help each other to close all these holes so

we can all survive.”

    In the new economy of carbon markets, paying to reduce

Amazon deforestation is starting to look like a good deal.

At the Cuiabá conference, the consultants McKinsey &

Company issued a report saying that Brazil, now the fourth-

largest producer of greenhouse gases, could cut up to 70

percent of its emissions over the next 20 years relatively

low cost, largely by protecting its forests.
    The McKinsey report says Amazon deforestation can be

cut to zero by 2030 at a cost of eight euros (about $11)

per metric ton of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere. Other

carbon-reducing measures, such as fuel substitutes or new

energy sources, can run to five times that amount.

    About two-thirds of the calculated cost is for social

investment like improved health and education in the

Amazon, where living standards are far below the national

average. McKinsey’s Marcus Frank insists that unless people

are given incentives, enforcement against illegal logging

will have little effect.

    “We need to recognize there are 25 million people

living in the Amazon,” Frank says. “It’s very difficult

just to put a fence around the forest and say, well, no

more deforestation. You cannot move 25 million people out

of the Amazon. You need to bring them to a condition that

will allow them to live in the forest or in urban areas

within the Amazon, and not destroy the forest.”

              #                   #

    Taking an overview, it is hard to choose between

optimism and pessimism. On the plus side, deforestation

figures have come down significantly since their most

recent peak in 2003 and 2004 when, according to official

satellite date, 28,000 square kilometers disappeared. The

next three years showed a sharp fall, although last year

that downward trend flattened. The annual rate for 2007-8
was 12,000 square kilometers. A feared upward spike because

of rising food prices failed to materialize.

    Yet these numbers are deceptive. They refer only to

areas that are clear-cut for farmland. But rainforest is

also degraded, its rich web of life made nearly barren by

stripping out larger trees. Undergrowth is burned to

accommodate cattle, and much less carbon is stored.

    The Brazilian National Space Research Institute

(INPE), which publishes annual deforestation figures,

recently developed a technique to track degradation from

space using markers like the color of treetops. With this

method, the INPE estimated that degraded areas increased by

66 per cent between 2007 and 2008 when the deforestation

rate was more or less flat. Once a forest deteriorates, it

is very likely to be quickly cut down.

    Lula’s anti-deforestation measures are partly paying

off. A federal police and military blitz in areas notorious

for illegal logging showed poachers their impunity was

ending. Measures such as cutting credit to landowners who

flout green legislation also make an impact.

    But a global demand for beef and soy spur expansion

further into pristine areas. “Rainforest cattle” are the

most destructive threat to the Amazon. Federal authorities

try to limit ranching. An international boycott of soy

produced on land cleared since 2006 has had an effect. But

big agriculture evades controls by shifting to marginal
forest land and finding other ways to cheat. Laws in this

vast expanse are not easy to enforce.

    Perhaps the worst news is that, in Brasilia, pro-

environment politicians and activists are having a very

tough time. Proposed legislation threatens to undermine

recent progress.

    One bill on land ownership would grant titles to a

million or more claimants, giving private citizens a chunk

of public land the size of France. There is broad agreement

that the chaotic deed structure must be clarified. But many

like Senator Marina Silva, former environment minister, see

the measure as an amnesty for land grabbers that would

encourage others to occupy the forest illegally.

    Powerful rural interests want to block environmental

impact assessments for new roads and blunt the “Forest

Code,” which stipulates how much native vegetation must be

left on rural property. They seem to have the upper hand.

                   #              #

    Returning to Itapiranga at dusk, I find the sleepy

community seems like a thriving metropolis after the

tranquility of the Uatumã. In fact, the town has swelled

with arrival of visitors from the sustainable development

reserve who came for a meeting to discuss progress.

    As night falls – as it does pretty much instantly at

this latitude – people drift up the steep hill from the

quay where they had been lounging in hammocks on the boat’s
covered deck. Some complain that Bolsa Floresta payments

are late and that some traditional activities like manioc

flour production are excluded from the incentive program.

    Salomão Barbosa, sturdy and charismatic in his late

30s, reflects the prevailing view: despite its shortcomings

the government plan gives communities, once abandoned, a

stake in the forest. It will work as long as authorities

follow through on their promises.

    In the end, Barbosa says, people who depend on the

rainforest want to see it protected for their kids. But,

like Jose Monteiro, he insists that the rest of the world

must do the right thing so they can still make ends meet.

    “Someone outside might think he doesn’t have to help

the Amazon because he’s not here,” Barbosa concluded, “but

what happens here will cause problems everywhere. It’s only

fair that we get some compensation. And the better the

compensation, the better we’ll do.”


To top