Brazil's Rainforest Plan Under Fire
By The Associated Press
RIO DE JANEIRO,
Brazil (AP) -- Hundreds of international groups
blasted Brazil's government on Tuesday for making drastic cuts in
programs aimed at saving its rainforests.
The cuts are
part of an austerity program to save $24 billion in 1999 and
$80 billion by 2002. Pledges of such reductions helped Brazil secure an
International Monetary Fund rescue package of $41.5 billion earlier this
would fight predatory exploitation of mahogany forests
and boost eco-tourism in the Amazon will be adversely affected,''
Claudionor Alexandre Barbosa da Silva, president of the Amazon Work
Group (GTA) told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper Tuesday.
more than 200,000 square miles or 12.5 percent of the
Amazon jungle were destroyed, mainly by farmers, ranchers and loggers.
The GTA, which
represents 355 non-government organizations, is irate
about a government announcement to cut 90 percent of funding allocated
for programs to fight the devastation.
Da Silva pointed
to the Pilot Program to Protect Tropical Forests, which
had its budget slashed from $61 million to just $6.3 million. ``It's absurd
and unjust,'' he told the newspaper.
Forest, which once spanned Brazil's 4,500-square-mile
eastern coast when the Portuguese first arrived in 1500, has been reduced
to just 3 percent of its original area.
The GTA began
a campaign Monday to lobby members of Brazil's
congress to fight the proposed cuts.