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Brazil to pay farmers $50/month to plant trees in the Amazon

Brazil will pay small farmers to plant trees in deforested parts of the Amazon under a plan unveiled Friday by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Green Arch initiative (Arco Verde) will pay farmers up to $51 per month for reforestation of degraded lands in 43 Amazon municipalities where deforestation is an ongoing problem.

“We need to think about how to make those people feel that they will make more money by planting trees than by cutting them down,” Lula told Reuters on Friday.

The program will also train local officials to prevent illegal logging and land grabbing in the municipalities.

Similar initiatives, Bolsa Verde at the federal level and Bolsa Floresta in the state of Amazonas, already pay small farmers for preserving forests on their lands. The programs are expected to expand under Brazil’s plan to reduce deforestation by roughly 70 percent by 2018.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has plunged since peaking in 2004. Environment Minister Carlos Minc reported yesterday that deforestation in the Amazon between August 2008 and July 2009 was the lowest in the country had seen in two decades. Government action to crack down on illegal clearing and falling commodity prices — agricultural expansion for cattle pasture and crops is the leading driver of Amazon deforestation — have been credited for the decline.

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