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Satellites show Amazon parks, indigenous reserves stop forest clearing

razilian Amazon ?five times the area under protection in parks ?and are currently the most important barrier to Amazon deforestation. Some conservationists argue that with acculturation to market society, indigenous peoples will cease to protect forests. But the authors found that virtually all indigenous lands substantially inhibit deforestation up to 400 years after contact with the national society. There was no correlation between population density in indigenous areas and inhibition of deforestation. In much of the Amazon, not only can protecting nature be reconciled with human habitation ?it wouldn't happen without the people.

Extensive intact forests on indigenous territories are central to large-scale conservation in the Amazon. Last year, the Brazilian government created a 5 million hectare mosaic of different kinds of reserves in the Terra do Meio region of Pará state. This connects two existing blocks of indigenous lands into a continuous corridor of protected tropical forest areas of 24 million hectares, the largest in the Amazon and the world. With broad alliances of support from indigenous groups, smallholder farmers, environmentalists, and government, it is possible to create protected areas in the active frontier of the Amazon and elsewhere. This is good news for governments and environmental groups, who have assumed for years that the most important tool for tropical forest conservation is the creation of protected areas.

A tropical forest ecologist, Nepstad has studied Amazon forests and strategies for their conservation for the last 21 years. His research includes forest fires and "savannization", the analysis of public policies to conserve the Amazon's natural resources, the prediction of future trends of Amazon forests and people, and the environmental certification of the region's cattle ranchers and soy farmers. Based in Belém, Brazil, he leads the Center's Amazon program. In 1995, he co-founded the Amazon Institute of
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Source:Woods Hole Research Center


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