Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 12:18 UK

In pictures: New plan to save the Amazon

Vapour rising from Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is the world's largest forest. It spreads across eight South American countries as well as French Guiana.

Parrot feeding from a jar at research facility in Manaus, Brazil

Home to an abundance of plant life and fauna, scientists say it is the most biodiverse place on Earth.

Cleared area of Amazon near Santarem

However it is being deforested at an alarming rate. Environmental group Greenpeace says that recently there has been an increase in the amount of deforestation for the first time in three years.

Cattle on farm in Mato Grosso

Environmental NGOs say high prices for beef and soya are largely to blame as land is cleared to graze cattle and grow crops.

Aerial view of Santarem

Santarem sits on the shores of the Amazon - the world's largest river. In 2005 climate change came to the Amazon, with the river's water levels dropping dramatically.

Cargill soya plant in Santarem

Cargill is one of the world's largest food suppliers. This is one of its soya processing plants in the Brazilian port town of Santarem.

Logs inside truck

When land is deforested large trees are chopped down and cut into planks to be sold. It is a profitable business - a single lorry can carry up to 40,000 worth of rare hardwoods.

Ibama officer checking vehicles

Trees are often illegally cut down and sold. In the Brazilian state of Rondonia there are just 50 officers from environmental agency Ibama to stop this trade in an area almost as big as the UK.

Man walking in front of forest fire

Once the large trees have been removed, fires are used to clear the land. Deforestation is responsible for 20% of worldwide carbon emissions.

Trees silhouetted by distant fires

Though laws protecting the rainforest do exist they are often simply ignored, so some entrepreneurs are trying to work out ways to make the trees worth more alive than dead.

Equipment measuring carbon absorption and vapour levels

By measuring how much CO2 the forest absorbs and how much water it provides they hope to put a price on the services the trees offer and make countries and companies around the world pay for them.

Burned out area of Amazon

The plan, explored in Panorama: Can Money Grow on Trees?, is to use market forces to save the rainforest. Panorama: Can Money Grow on Trees? will be on BBC One on Monday 8 September at 8.30 BST.

Can capitalism save the Amazon?
07 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature
In video: Can Money Grow on Trees?
07 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature
Why the West should put money in the trees
08 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature


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