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Peru gets $120m to protect 212,000 sq mi of Amazon rainforest

The Japanese government will loan Peru $120 million to protect 55 million hectares (212,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest over the next ten years, reports El Comercio.

The loan, to be distributed in three phases starting year next, has an interest rate of 0.10 percent payable over 40 years.

Antonio Brack, Peru’s Minister of the Environment, said the loan will be used to establish permanent forest reserves, including indigenous territories.

Brack estimated the initiative would avoid emissions of 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or more than 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2005. Brack set forth the funding proposal at last December’s climate talks in Poznan, Poland. At the time he said Peru was seeking $200 million over 10 years in donations from industrialized countries to reduce Amazon deforestation to zero.

Peru had the world sixth highest loss of old-growth forests between 2000 and 2005, losing 224,600 hectares per year. The South American country ranks second in the world in terms of primary forest (61 million hectares) and ninth in terms of total forest cover (68.7 million hectares)

Peru — home to the fourth largest extent of tropical rainforests after Brazil, Congo, and Indonesia — has historically had one of the lowest annual deforestation rates in the Amazon basin, but forest loss has been increasing in recent years due to illegal logging, mining, agriculture, and expansion of road networks, including the paving of a highway that provides access to a remote and biologically-rich region in southeastern part of the country. In 2005 — the most recent year for which data is available — at least 150,000 hectares of forest was lost, while a similar area was degraded through logging and other activities.

Deforestation and land use change accounts for roughly 70 percent of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC). Spanning a variety of ecosystems, including the dry coastal region, the tropical Amazon, and the high Andes, the country is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The Peruvian government estimates that the country’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 20% in the past 30 years and expects them all to disappear by 2040. The loss of glaciers, which are the source for as much as 50 percent of the water in the upper Amazon, could have a significant impact on agriculture and urban water supplies as well as the Amazon rainforest.

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