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Amazon Tribesman Takes Rainforest Message To Japan

Raoni Metyktire, one of the leaders of the Kayapo Indian Amazon tribe, speaks at a press conference in Tokyo. An Amazon tribal leader warned Thursday that the world will "destroy itself" unless nations stop clearing rainforests and voiced anger that his message is falling on deaf ears. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 31, 2007
An Amazon tribal leader warned Thursday that the world will "destroy itself" unless nations stop clearing rainforests and voiced anger that his message is falling on deaf ears. Taking his campaign to the world's second-largest economy, Raoni Metyktire, a leader of the Kayapo Indians in Brazil, said Amazon nature was falling victim to development, mining and farming.

"I have met with presidents, provincial leaders and other officials. But they do not listen to what I say," he said through a translator.

Raoni, sporting a disc in his lower lip, is visiting Japan for several months of campaigning, educational events and displays of Amazon artifacts on a trip arranged by Japanese environmentalists.

"If destruction of the forests continues, the world will destroy itself. Wind will blow, hail will fall," Raoni said.

"I am convinced that very bad things will happen. I fear that."

Donning yellow headgear and dark-colored neck ornaments, Raoni is best known for joining rock star Sting's 1989 world tour to promote rainforest protection.

Ten countries including Brazil account for 80 percent of the world's primary forests.

Environmental group Greenpeace warned recently that Indonesia had the highest deforestation rate, with more than 72 percent of ancient forests gone and much of the rest threatened by commercial logging and clearance for palm oil plantations.

earlier related report
Green watchdogs warn I.Coast's tropical forests at risk
Abidjan (AFP) May 31 - Ivory Coast's rare tropical forests risk vanishing due to excessive exploitation by timber logging firms, environmental watchdogs warned Thursday. "Of the 123 companies in timber exploitation, only two respect the forestry regulations," Jacob N'Zi, head of Ecological Group of Ivory Coast (Geci), told AFP.

Geci accused the firms of ignoring a 2,000 to 10,000 cubic metre annual quota imposed by authorities for timber harvesting.

"If we are not careful, at this rate Ivory Coast forests will disappear in 10 years," N'Zi said.

The size of Ivory Coast's thick tropical forests has shrunk from 16 million hectares in the 1960s to no more than six million hectares, according to official figures. But N'Zi argues that no more than a million hectares of forest remain, part of which is occupied by the western Tai national park, a UNESCO heritage site protected with aid from the German government.

Kouadio Gnamien, head of another green advocate Ecologia, estimated that "wood fraud" cost Ivory Coast more than 200 billion CFA (300 million euros, 400 million dollars) between 2003 and 2006.

He deplored the "complicity" of public authorities whose role is to protect the forests.

The groups have asked parliament to probe the industry. Environmental issues were not a high priority during the four-year civil conflict that split Ivory Coast into a rebel-held north and government ruled south. The former economic powerhouse ranks high among potentially big wood producers in west Africa.

In its western neighbour Liberia, timber was used to finance a civil war when former strongman Charles Taylor exchanged concessions for guns.

Experts say 13 west and central African countries together have tropical forests second only in size to the Amazon.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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