Arts, Culture & Media

Amazon activist remembered

(Many Americans first learned about the riches of the rainforest through people like Chico Mendes 20 years ago. What does he stand for in Brazil?) His legacy is enormous, the federal institution formed to look after wildlife in Brazil is called the Chico Mendes Institute. What he represents is the trend that you've got to get local unity on the side of the forest and enable locals to make a living from the rainforest. (What we have now is an uneasy existence. Chico Mendes knew of this even 20 years ago. Can you measure the progress that's been made in the 20 years since Mendes's death?) Well in some ways nothing has changed and these areas are still a battleground. But people like Mendes now are less alone. There are aspects of the federal government that are out to help them. But they still have a long way to go. (How much better protected are the rainforests there than 20 years ago?) In terms of the law they are better protected, but in practice that's not true. In the last 30 years, an area the size of Texas has been lost. But the Brazilian government has finally adopted limits on rainforest destruction for the first time ever.

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