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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Brazil turns seized lands into reserves
Logging boat on Amazon river
Illegal logging is destroying the Amazon region
Environmental groups in Brazil have welcomed a government decision to protect more than two million hectares of the Amazon rainforest reclaimed from fraudulent land owners.

The land in Roraima state was seized by Brazilian authorities from landholders who could not prove their ownership.


They [the local residents] need to be involved as allies in protection, and not as adversaries who will be evicted from the area

Muriel Saraguffi
Vitoria Amazonica foundation

In July 2000, the authorities asked more than 3,000 landowners to show proof of their ownership of vast tracts on land in the Amazon region.

Agrarian Reform Minister Raul Jungmann said the government had so far recuperated some 23 million hectares in this way, and hoped to reclaim more than double that area.

Logging

But environmental pressure group Greenpeace said the recovered areas would be vulnerable to illegal logging if the government and the international community did not provide technical and financial support.

Fire in Amazon rainforest
Landowners burn the rainforest to clear the land
A spokesman for Greenpeace, Paulo Adario, said the Brazilian Government often sets up national parks, and then does little to help protect them.

Another environmental organisation in Brazil, the Vitoria Amazonica Foundation, said the new reserves would only remain protected if local residents were encouraged to get involved in conservation efforts.

The foundation's director, Muriel Saraguffi, said: "[The local residents] need to be involved as allies in protection and not as adversaries who will be evicted from the area."

Mr Jungmann said some of the newly recovered land would be settled by poor farming families, but any virgin forest would be conserved.

See also:

15 Sep 00 | Americas
Amazon tribe wins legal battle
20 Jun 00 | Americas
Amazon felled for British plywood
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