The New York Times
November 25, 1998

          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

          ``Programs that 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.

          From 1978-96, 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.

          The Atlantic 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.