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Saturday, October 30, 1999 Published at 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK

World: Americas

New hope for Brazil rainforests

Large areas of rainforest have been destroyed by illegal logging

By the BBC's Brazil correspondent, Stephen Cviic

Representatives of the Brazilian government and the major industrialised nations have concluded a meeting in Brazilia at which they've been trying to breathe new life into a programme designed to help save the country's tropical rainforests.

The pilot programme consists of a series of environmental projects, mainly funded by donors from the G7 nations.

The meeting was designed to overhaul the management of the $250m programme, which the Brazilian government says has not been working as well as it should.

In one way it was a success. Delegates agreed to set up a co-ordinating committee which will meet every three months and will also provide much needed focus in deciding which projects are to go ahead.

The Brazilian authorities are also saying that they have been given a mandate by the G7 to take charge of the programme.

Bureaucratic delays

But in another area little progress was made. The PPG7, as the programme is known, is multilateral, but all the funds have to be used in accordance with the rules of individual donors.

This leads to bureaucratic delays - something which the gathering in Brazilia did not address.

The PPG7 was never designed to be the solution to all the problems of Brazil's rainforests. Indeed environmentalists argue that some government policies, such as the renewed emphasis on big infra-structure projects, actually conflict with the goal of preserving bio-diversity.

But those concerned about the fate of the Amazon rainforests can perhaps take heart from one recent development.

The government is now able to levy much heavier fines for environmental destruction. This week one farm was fined four and a half million dollars for illegal crop burning -- a new record.

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