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. Brazil launches sustainable development plan for Amazon

by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) May 8, 2008
Brazil on Thursday launched an ambitious sustainable development plan for the Amazon that aims to lay down a new model for the vast jungle area balancing economic and environmental priorities, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

"We all understand that the Amazon needs to develop, but we also understand that there had to be a development model that is well thought-out, and not predatory, just like we have in other regions of the country," he said.

The initiative aims at laying down infrastructure works in nine Brazilian states that are within the Amazon, opening credit lines to small farmers, and adopting new criteria for the registration of people in the area.

It provides for various methods to fight deforestation and the illegal occupation of public land.

"There are people who think the Amazon should belong to mankind. And we think that way, too. We think that it needs to benefit everyone. But we also have to say loudly and clearly that it is Brazil that is in charge of looking after the Amazon," Lula said.

That was seen as a shot across the bow of foreign governments and groups that want to pressure Brazil in terms of limitations on Amazon development.

"Each time someone talks about the Amazon abroad, usually it provokes a defense, responses to questions about deforestation, burning of land, pollution and other things that we raise. We often have a lot of problems with that," he said.

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Mangrove destruction partly to blame for Myanmar toll: ASEAN chief
Singapore (AFP) May 6, 2008
The destruction of mangrove forests that served as a buffer from the sea is partly to blame for the massive death toll from a cyclone in Myanmar, the head of the ASEAN regional bloc said Tuesday.

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