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Leftist groups meeting in Brazil call for Amazon protection

Greenpeace said its aim during the forums was to build consensus of having zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2015.
by Staff Writers
Belem, Brazil (AFP) Jan 28, 2009
Leftist groups attending the World Social Forum (WSF) in Brazil kicked off their week of activities Wednesday with a call for greater protection of the Amazon basin.

The issue was the first of many to be discussed at the gathering in Belem, northern Brazil, which is designed as an anti-globalization counterweight to the Davos World Economic Forum under way in Switzerland.

The WSF, which opened its six-day program on Tuesday, has brought together an estimated 100,000 people from unions, ecological organizations, feminist groups and other associations committed to its overarching slogan, "Another World is Possible."

Just outside Belem, some 2,000 indigenous people held a ritual of fire, water and offerings to Mother Earth in tribute to the Amazon rainforest.

One umbrella group representing 180 environmental organizations around the world, Climate Justice Now, urged WSF participants to pressure their governments towards sustainable development.

"The history of environmental negotiations shows us that we can't leave the search for a solution only in the hands of the UN, which the big political and economic powers push around," Nicola Bullard, a representative of the Thailand-based Focus on the Global South, told AFP.

Greenpeace said its aim during the forums was to build consensus of having zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2015, a spokeswoman, Rebeca Lerer, said.

The issue was seen as emblematic for the forum. Brazil, the host country, possesses the greatest swath of the Amazon. In 2008, it lost more than 12,000 square kilometers to loggers, farmers and ranchers -- half of that in the state of Para, where the WSF was taking place.

"We know that the Amazon has a strategic function for the planet, giving life and water. But only its population has the conditions to create the base of a new model of development," said Aldalice Oterloo, of the Brazilian Association of NGOs.

An estimated 25 million people live in the Amazon, including indigenous communities who hoped the WSF would give their situation, and challenges, a higher profile.

"We are launching an SOS to the world. The planet is in danger and is heading for destruction. That's why we're here asking for solidarity," said Miguel Palacin, a Peruvian member of the Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations.

"The big multinationals are going into our territories, sometimes with the help of paramilitaries, sometimes with the assent of the government, pushing out our own communities. And those who resist are persecuted."

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Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across The Western US
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 24, 2009
Tree death rates have more than doubled over the last few decades in old-growth forests of the western United States, and the most probable cause of the worrisome trend is regional warming, according to a U.S. Geological Survey-led (USGS) study published in Science.

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