Brazil: 322 families in Juma reserve now paid by Marriot Intl. to defend their forest

A total of 322 families living in the Juma reserve in the Brazilian
state of Amazonas will each receive a monthly allowance in return for
pledging zero deforestation. The Tories decided to support the project
after a visit in December by Greg Barker, shadow environment minister,
on a fact-finding mission. “Nothing we can do to fight climate change
will succeed unless we can reverse the alarming deforestation across
the world,” he said. It will be announced this week as part of a
Conservative climate change campaign.

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The American hotel chain Marriott International will announce its
support for the project, asking all guests to contribute $1 (70p) a
night. If every guest agrees, $450,000 (£310,000) a day could be
raised. The company has donated $2m as seed money. The Juma project is
the brainchild of Professor Virgilio Viana, who was appointed the
first environment secretary ever for Amazonas in 2003, a dramatic
turnaround for a state whose previous administration handed out

During his five years in office he managed to slash deforestation from 600 to 200 square miles per year and create a number of reserves in the state, which is the largest in the Amazon. According to Viana, creating protected areas is not enough, because people will always encroach. “You’ve got to look at why people deforest,” he explains. “It’s not because they are stupid, irrational or hate forest. Most forest-dwellers are very poor. If I was living in
a shack like theirs, I’d sell a mahogany tree for 10 bucks to get milk for my children.”

“We chose Juma because we wanted to go to the battlefront,” he said. The reserve lies along one main highway and is crossed by another, which attracts much illegal logging. The first community to sign up was Boa Frente, a cluster of 17 families living in a row of wooden shacks on a bluff overlooking a muddy river.

Each family had to attend a workshop on climate change and commit to zero
deforestation and to send their children to school. They were then given a forest cash-card credited with 50 reais (£15) per month. The community has been provided with a solar panel and a computer and 4,000 reais (£1,200) a year to spend on anything that doesn’t cause deforestation.

They received a further 4,000 reais to invest in a social programme of their choosing, such as a school or clinic. Satellite images are used to ensure compliance. If any forest has gone from a family’s area at the end of a year they will be expelled from the scheme and will put their community’s involvement in jeopardy.

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